Prom Safety

by Nicole Chute, Health Promotion & Communication Specialist, City of Nashua Division of Public Health & Community Services

It’s almost that time of year! Prom can be one of the highlights of the high school experience as it is an important and exciting milestone for a young person. In preparation for this exciting event, parents and students need to understand the law, the risks associated with underage drinking and drug use, and make plans to celebrate safely. The New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA) wants to share some tips to help students make smart decisions to look and feel great, stress less, and stay protected.

What can students do to look and feel great? There are many ways students can look and feel great without harming their health. First, indoor tanning is dangerous on the skin and should be avoided at all times. Second, trying any new hair color or cosmetic product has the potential to cause a reaction. It is recommended to always test new products in a small area first, stop using the product if problems develop, and follow all directions, cautions, and warnings on the label. Lastly, while high heels may be in style, they can increase your chance of falling if they’re too high, uncomfortable, or not something you are used to wearing. Prevent injury and wear comfortable shoes that won’t affect how you walk or dance.

What can you do to stress less and protect yourself? Prom is an important night, and it can be stressful for both students and parents. Leading up to prom night, it is important to plan ahead for safety. Be sure to tell your loved ones and family members what your plans are for the day and evening. Any change of plans should be communicated back home. Make a plan to agree with friends to check on each other throughout the evening. Be sure someone you trust is available if your plans change or you need a ride home.

Some people feel pressured to drink, smoke, use drugs, or have sex on prom night. However, underage drinking and drug use are against the law. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment and may result in being harmed or harming others. Drinking is also responsible for over 4,500 deaths among young people each year and is associated with other problems such as sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy. Just because your friends do something doesn’t make it a good idea or right for you. It’s OK to say no.

Teen drivers ages 16 to 19 years old are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. You should never drink and drive, never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking, and always wear a safety belt. If you are put into an unsafe situation, call someone you trust for a ride home. Asking for a ride will bring you home safely without judgment or punishment.

Dating abuse is a very real issue for many young people. This abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual. Respect yourself and others. Call 911 if you or someone you know is being abused.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prom may look a little different this year. To celebrate safely, students are encouraged to review and follow all COVID-19 safety protocols at their school events. This guidance was created to protect the health and safety of you, your peers, and your community.

Students should quarantine for 10 days leading up to the event and get tested for COVID-19 a few days prior to the event. On the day of prom, anyone who is experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 10 days, or has traveled out-of-state during the 10 days prior to the event should not attend. If you develop symptoms after the event, it is important to get tested for COVID-19.

While attending prom, wear a mask over your mouth and nose at all times, except when you are eating or drinking, to protect yourself and individuals around you. Do your best to stay six feet away from others at all times throughout the night. If the dance floor looks crowded, find another activity and wait until there are fewer people before you join. Make sure to wash your hands often, especially before and after eating.

Another layer of protection before prom is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, in New Hampshire, vaccines are available to all residents 16 years of age and older. Residents who are 16 and 17 years old are only authorized to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses, three weeks apart, for full vaccination. Schedule an appointment before prom at vaccines.nh.gov.

Follow these tips for a safe, healthy, and fun prom!

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