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Ah, the summer! Just the sound of the word brings with it images of pure bliss! Relaxation, smooth drinks, sunny skies, water, hazy, lazy days of fun and renewal! How we look forward to the summer!

So do thugs!

An open and easy mindset during the milder months lead many to understandably let their guard down in an effort to reduce stress and relax. Of course, this makes perfect sense. It also, however, makes perfect sense to the criminal among us, and they wait for just such an opportunity to get in under your radar where they can wreak havoc. Summer can be a very busy and lucrative time of the year for criminals. That's not to say that we shouldn't bask in the delicious freedom that summer brings! Let's just remember that true freedom comes with the knowledge that we are safe.

There are so may simple precautions we can take with a minimal amount of effort, and in fact, we should be doing these things all year long. The simple truth is that in the summer we may be more likely to be just a touch lazy about these things.

For example, how many times have you parked your car and ran out for “just a minute” and left a window open. That's a “no-no”. Why? Because someone can break in, and take your things or even your car itself. Even worse, is if they make way into your car and don't take it because they are waiting to take it and you when you return! This includes convertibles, close the windows and rag tops up! While we are on the subject of cars, the front seat may be a convenient dumping ground for your cell phone, but it is not the best place to leave it while you run that quick little errand. Do you know the old saying "What you see, is what you get”? That saying is true for thieves too.

OK, so let's suppose your the athletic type and you prefer the wind blowing through your hair as opposed to the air conditioning and you hit the road via bike. Did you know that the months of June, July & August carry the highest rate of auto fatalities on average? More cars are on the road, there are more teen drivers on the road (who are involved in more auto accidents than other certain age groups), alcohol may be more of an issue during the summer months there are other distractions at work. How does this affect you on your bike? Greatly, if you are unlucky enough to get in the middle of a wreck or have to swerve to avoid one. About 85% of all bicycling fatalities are head injuries so always wear your helmet. Especially those born before 1960 (you know who you are) no matter how nerdy it makes you feel. In many states, it's also the law. Wear appropriate clothing, a little light sleeve or leg covering could save you a world of hurt if you hit the ground. I speak from experience. One brush with road rash (especially hot asphalt) and believe me, you won't be bike riding in that bathing suit again!

Stay hydrated! Heat can be dizzying and dehydration can sneak up quickly. The last thing you want is to be in a compromising position (passed out somewhere) or to end up in an emergency room. Drink lots of water during the summer months and remember, no water bottles in the car without being in proper holders. One can roll under the break pedal while driving and prevent you from pressing down on the breaks when you need them. Unusual, maybe, but this happened to a friend of mine. Luckily, two surgeries later and months of rehab she is back to driving sans unsecured water bottle.

Parties and long nights out are not uncommon and increase during the summer months. And often, so does sexual assault, especially of the younger crowd where alcohol is a frequently a component. Many sexual assaults occur during graduation time and the months after. Young women aged 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault especially when alcohol or drugs are involved. What to do? For one thing "Just Say No" to drugs and alcohol! Make good decisions. Even small quantities of alcohol can deteriorate thinking abilities quickly and lead to poor decision making. Plan ahead how to handle choices you may be faced with when attending a party and stick to your resolve. Use the buddy system, make sure a friend is aware of your movements. Don't leave parties alone with someone you have just met and don't go to secluded areas with anyone. Don't put whatever you are drinking down, and keep an eye on your glass at all times. Date rape drugs are tasteless and colorless. If you feel uncomfortable in any circumstance, tell your friend and don' be afraid to leave, with or without your friend. Have a charged cell phone at all times and some cash for a taxi in case you can't get home the way you originally planned or your Uber app crashes. Don’t deny your "gut feelings" and have the courage to say "no" to something you feel uneasy about.If you happen to fall victim to a crime, report it…immediately!

With some simple precautions and some common sense practices, we can then rest assured that we have done all we can to stay safe. Then we can truly sit back, relax and have a fabulous summer!

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