Congrats class of 2024 — have a safe summer!

News from VashonBePrepared

Graduation parties can be an exciting and memorable time for teens and parents. But parties can get out of hand, so it’s worth helping your teen stay safe by making plans in advance.

Drunk driving isn’t the only concern, but it’s a big one. Although it’s not legal for people under 21 to drink, the seasonal statistics are sobering: according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, close to one-third of vehicle- and alcohol-related fatalities among teens take place between April and June.

Parents and guardians should talk with kids about alcohol and drugs, and be clear about expectations and consequences. Two-thirds of high school seniors opt out of drinking alcohol — if this is your teen, applaud them for this healthy plan. Being a good adult role model who never gets behind the wheel after drinking also sends a powerful message.

  • Parents can offer to plan, host, and supervise a graduation party. Teens can also still register to attend Vashon’s Safe Grad Night next weekend. Scholarships are available. Visit online for more.
  • Know who will be driving your teen to and from a party. Offer to drive if possible. Empower teens not to get into a car with a driver of any age who has been drinking.
  • Make a deal with your teen that you’ll be available to pick them up or help them, under any circumstances, no questions asked.
  • Support teens in resisting peer pressure. They can always say no and don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do.
  • Having a buddy system helps — friends can watch out for each other.
  • If something doesn’t feel safe, it probably isn’t. Teens should trust their instincts.

Check out this list of tips from the Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA).

Can-Do Season: Tips for Safe Ladder Use

Summer is the time for home maintenance projects, like painting and cleaning gutters, and fun activities like stringing party lights and harvesting tree fruits.

Many of these undertakings require the use of ladders. They’re great tools, but dangerous if used improperly.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year 500,000 people in the U.S. are treated for ladder-related injuries. About 300 of these accidents are fatal. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also reports that people 65 and older are 80% more likely than younger adults to visit the emergency room because of a ladder fall.

We’ve compiled some ladder safety tips from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration ( to help you stay safe.

  • Choose the appropriate ladder for your project (e.g., foldable “A”-shape ladder, extension ladder, etc.), check its load limit, and inspect for damage.
  • Avoid electrical hazards. Never use a metal ladder for electrical work. Make sure there are no overhead power lines near your work area.
  • Place the ladder on a stable surface and make sure extension ladders are locked when extended. Maintain a secure area around the ladder.
  • Place a straight or extension ladder at an angle so its base is a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface (1-to-4 ratio). Extend the ladder at least 3 feet above the landing area (see image).
  • Do not step on the top rung(s) on foldable ladders. Printed directions on the ladder usually note which rungs may be used.
  • Face the ladder going up and down, and always maintain three points of contact: two feet and a hand, or a foot and two hands.
  • Work with a buddy — someone who can hand you equipment and call for help if needed.

Good News: Respiratory Virus Season Is Waning

Here’s an encouraging message from Dr. Jim Bristow of Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC):

“At the King County level at least, the rate of illness from COVID remains low and the respiratory virus season is pretty much over. We can expect a summer COVID-19 peak, but it has been getting smaller each year.

Some folks on Vashon have reported noticing a recent uptick in COVID cases, possibly due to increased travel. While healthcare visits for flu-like diseases have slowed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that COVID test positivity increased 23%, from 3.4% of COVID tests returning positive results during the week ending May 18, to 4.2% of tests during the week ending May 25.

While experts have not yet agreed on a definition of the syndrome, long COVID treatment centers, such as the Post-COVID Recovery and Rehabilitation Center at the University of Washington, are working to help patients who are living with lingering symptoms.

“Studies of long COVID are ongoing, but it will take time to see actionable results because it’s a long-term disease. Catching COVID repeatedly increases the risk of experiencing long COVID symptoms. To stay safer, keep taking simple precautions whenever possible, such as avoiding dense crowds, masking when crowds are unavoidable, and using good ventilation and air purification.”