Thursday, April 27, 2017

Public Places Safety for Families

Remember the last time your family made a trip to the local city park? The kids are in the back seat
talking about which part of the playground they will play on first. One is looking forward to the swings; the other can’t wait to go down the curvy slide. When you pull into the park, you notice the large number of cars. There are people sitting in their lawn chairs and hanging out on the picnic tables consuming alcohol. You notice a few teenagers from your neighborhood also consuming the alcohol as well. Does this concern you?

Forty-four percent (44%) of Van Buren County youth report that it is easy or very easy to get alcoholic beverages.  Fourteen percent (14%) of Van Buren County 11th grade students report getting their alcohol from a friend over the age of 21 and twelve percent (12%) say they got it at a party (2014 Iowa Youth Survey).  Youth and young adults reported during community focus groups that there is access to alcohol in public places, specifically at co-ed softball tournaments.  As parents and adults, we talk to our kids and we explain the dangers of alcohol to them. We know that alcohol is associated with many issues including death, injury, crime, violence, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and violations of the good conduct policies. Yet, some older friends and siblings of our children are providing alcohol to them against our wishes.

Communities that permit alcohol use on public property, such as parks and outdoor recreation facilities, allow situations where underage drinking may occur. These public spaces make it easier for youth to get alcohol because they are not subject to the server laws that bars, restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores must follow. By developing policies regarding alcohol use in these public places, communities help eliminate potential problem areas. The positive result: a more welcoming, healthy, safer community where individuals and families enjoy favorite hobbies and time together.  Through the Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant the SAFE Coalition is encouraging local city councils to consider implementing these types of policies for public places in Van Buren County. 

Preventative restrictions can range from limiting the time or location of alcohol use, rules for use or bans on alcohol consumption. For example, some communities may establish a distance between alcohol use and playground equipment, or require a city permit to have alcohol at a gathering.  If we, as a community, start putting these restrictions in place, we stand against irresponsible alcohol use, saying, “It is not OK to provide alcohol to a minor and there is no such thing as a ‘safe place’ for underage drinking.”

In order to bring about community change, we must decide what our community represents. Who do we want to attract to the area?  What do we want our children or grandchildren growing up around?  What are the benefits and drawbacks of allowing alcohol use in public spaces versus restricting the use?

Help your community make these decisions and change local thinking about alcohol. When you are at community events and public areas, say something to law enforcement if you see someone providing alcohol to minors.

To learn more about underage drinking and the current efforts to reduce it, check out the coalition website at If you have any questions regarding the Iowa Partnership for Success Grant, the strategies being implemented in Van Buren County or would like to volunteer your time, please feel free to contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

These efforts are funded by the Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant, provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Margaritas and Driving Don’t Mix on Cinco de Mayo Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

Cinco de Mayo has become a deadly holiday due to drunk driving. In fact, 40 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes across the nation during the Cinco de Mayo holiday period in 2015.

That’s why the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and the SAFE Coalition are teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reach all drivers with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

“Leading up to May 5th, we want remind everyone around Van Buren County that alcohol and driving do not mix,” said Sheriff Tedrow. “Planning a sober ride home before the party begins is key to staying safe on Cinco de Mayo. Designate your sober driver in advance, and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”

From 2011-2015, 270 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes during the Cinco de Mayo holiday period.

A safe, sober ride home is an essential part of any plan that includes drinking. If you plan to celebrate this Cinco de Mayo, follow these steps to stay safe:
     Before celebrating, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.
     If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. 

     If you have been drinking, call a sober friend or family member. Also, try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which helps users call a friend for a ride home and identify their location so they can be picked up.
     Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. If someone you know is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel; help them find a sober ride home.
     If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, call the police. Your actions could help save a life.

Drunk driving causes tragedies all year round. According to NHTSA, 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015, and 10,265, or 29 percent, of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes.

Plan your sober ride home before the party begins this Cinco de Mayo.
Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

For more information, visit or contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rx Take Back Day - April 29, 2017

Alcohol and Kids

By Patricia S. Erickson – Public Action Management

April was alcohol awareness month and it's a good time to look at how we, as adults, are interacting with alcohol around young people.  Drinking rates among youth are the lowest they've been in years which is reason to celebrate. In 2016 the Monitoring the Future Survey found that 7% of 8th graders, 20% of 10th graders and 33% of 12th graders had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days; down from 1991 rates of 25%, 43% and 54% respectively.  While kids are drinking less, we're learning more about the potential harm that alcohol poses to the not-inconsequential number that do drink.

As medical technology advances, we're learning more about the impact of alcohol on the adolescent brain. The human brain develops from the back to front, with the prefrontal cortex being among the last areas to become fully developed in the mid-20’s. This area is the center of judgment and impulse control, and adding alcohol to the mix can impede development. The memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, has been found to be smaller in teens that drink a lot. In her studies of the adolescent brain, Susan Tapert of the University of California San Diego has found that just 12 drinks a month--two or three binges--can result in diminished memory and thinking skills in teens.

In an effort to keep kids from drinking irresponsibly as adults, some parents look to the "European model" of allowing young children to drink at home where they are supervised, so that they won't drink so much in other places. But the data says this tends to backfire. Kids whose parents allow drinking at home tend to drink more overall, and they find ways to get alcohol outside of the home.  Australian researchers surveyed parents and children over the course of four years and found that children who were allowed to drink at home at 13 or 14 were three times more likely to be drinking more at age 16 than their peers who were not served alcohol at home.

It may be more effective for parents to model moderation practices when it comes to alcohol. Home consumption and hosting can be opportunities to show children how adults can drink and be safe. Part of the effort could involve maintaining open lines of communication so kids know that some activities are for adults only and why that is the case. Parents should realize that if they rely heavily on alcohol to cope with the stress of parenting, this is a lesson that is being passed on, too.

Keeping the lines of communication open, making time to talk, and researching credible sources when you don't know the answers are all steps in the right direction. There are many good resources for talking to kids of different ages including Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Power of Parents (  These sources also have tools for helping kids develop refusal skills around alcohol and other unsafe activities.  It's also important for kids to know about whether Medical Amnesty laws apply where they live. Such a law would apply in a situation where someone is passed out possibly due to alcohol poisoning. If an underage person needs medical assistance, Medical Amnesty means that the person calling for help will not get in trouble. There is great potential for these kinds of laws to save lives.  These conversations may be uncomfortable, but if they don't learn about alcohol from caring adults, they may get inaccurate information from someone else.

It's developmentally appropriate, even essential, for teens to take risks to help them find their way in the world. Adults need to encourage healthy risk taking--the kind of behaviors that challenge and build skills and resilience, but don't put them at risk for great physical harm. 

Even if you don't have teenagers or young children at home, we can all do something to discourage underage drinking. If you shop somewhere that aggressively sells cheap alcohol, fill out a comment card or talk to the manager and ask them to consider changing their sales practices.  Tough ID laws and good training for servers and sellers can be impediments for kids to get their hands on booze.  Supporting opportunities in your community for kids to get involved in sports, arts and other activities that don't revolve around drinking can go a long way to making sure that the investment in schools--and the kids that attend them, are not lost.  Also enforcing alcohol laws that keep the alcohol industry regulated is a basic but often overlooked need for keeping trends moving in the right direction. Only responsible regulated industry members should be involved in the alcohol business.

For more information on talking to your children about alcohol please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or checkout the website at 


Adventureland Tickets

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition has discounted tickets for Adventureland.  The cost per ticket is $22 (a savings of $20 off the regular ticket price).  The tickets are only good for the Substance Free Weekends at Adventureland on April 29th and April 30th, or May 6th and May 7th, 2017.  These special days are held at Adventureland to increase awareness of Drug Prevention Programs and provide a day of fun as a reward for those that participate in those programs.    

This Substance Free event is a great way to spend a fun filled day with family and friends.  You may purchase these tickets for your entire family while supplies last.  Admission will not be available at this price at Adventureland during this event.  If you are interested in going to Adventureland on any of these dates please contact the SAFE Coalition by phone at 319-293-6412 or by email at  Tickets are available now.  The Substance Free event is a great way to spend a fun filled day with family and friends.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition Supports After Prom Parties

Van Buren/Harmony After Prom
April 22nd
12:00 A.M. – 5:00 A.M.
Harmony Elementary School

Activities to include:
Hypnotist, Jousting, Obstacle Course, Mechanical Bull,
Caricature Drawings, and much more!

Free T-shirts! 
RSVP Required for a t-shirt

Food and drinks provided:
Ice Cream Sundae Bar, Cotton Candy, Pizza,
Subs, Breakfast, and more!

Prizes will include:
TV’s, Fitbit, Beats Headphones, Laptop, and much more!
Prizes will be drawn before breakfast!

For more info contact:
Mindy Smith – 319-470-3229 or
Angie Heiserman – 641-919-1605 or


On Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 13th opportunity in 7 years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Bring your pills for disposal to the VBCH Community Services Center (Upper Level of the Hospital’s Daycare) at 308 Mulberry Street, Keosauqua, IA 52565 (Entrance to the Van Buren County Hospital’s Emergency Room – Building on the Left).  The DEA cannot accept liquids, inhalers, needles or sharps, only pills or patches.  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 366 tons (over 730,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 12 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 7.1 million pounds—more than 3,500 tons—of pills. 

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 29 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website or Contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or