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Kristi Pankratz

Krisit Pankratz

There are things about my job that are just plain scary. Number one? Presentations to kids. I have to be at the top of my game because these kids are JUDGING me. I can tell by the “joy” on their faces when I’m introduced. Ok, maybe some of it is in my mind, but credibility is so important with kids. And talking to them about the consequences of drug use and how media influences decisions is a big responsibility. 

Kids are also pretty amusing. One of the funniest responses was when we were deconstructing a song and asked what the term “Mary Jane” was referencing. Some smart aleck kid spouts off, “Spider-Man’s girlfriend.” I liked that kid.

And, it’s amazing what kids already know (and how much we have to google based on what we overhear in sidebar conversations). I used to think I was young and cool. It doesn’t take long, hanging out with a bunch of teenagers, to see that I might need a reality check about my level of coolness.

With upcoming prom and graduation season, it’s really important to talk about the consequences of alcohol use – and it’s not just about drinking and driving, although those tragedies are 100% preventable.

It’s also illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Consequences of underage drinking include: jail time, driver’s license suspension, fines, school conduct issues among others. It is also illegal to provide alcohol to those under the age of 21.

And if you want to get all research-y about it, let’s not forget that underage drinking is linked to a whole bunch of other things that can be problematic: drug use, teen pregnancy, school dropout, delinquency, violence, depression/anxiety, sexual assault… just to name a few.

Additionally, it’s important that people know the signs of alcohol poisoning and the importance of taking immediate action. It really is a matter of life and death.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning:

•    Unconscious or passed out and can’t be awakened

•    Vomiting

•    Seizures

•    Irregular, slow breathing (8 breaths or less per minute)

•    Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin

What TO DO if you encounter Alcohol Poisoning:

•    CALL 911

•    Stay with your friend until help arrives

•    Turn your friend on his or her side

•    Monitor breathing closely

And, the ever important reminders of what never-ever to do…

What NOT to do if you encounter Alcohol Poisoning:

•    DO NOT leave your friend alone.

•    DO NOT let your friend “sleep it off.”

•    DO NOT allow your friend to drive.

•    DO NOT give your friend food, liquid, medication or drugs.

•    DO NOT encourage your friend to walk, run or exercise.

•    DO NOT put your friend in a cold shower

If you have kids in your life, PLEASE talk with them about this important subject. Kids are an intimidating audience – I get it. But parents/caregivers carry more weight than they realize.

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