Summer child safety priority for Yongsan community

by Ms. Elizabeth Pyon
U.S. Army

USAG Yongsan -- School is out, and summer means a lot of free time for many of the youth at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan. The Directorate of Emergency Services, Child and Youth Services and the Safety Office are reminding parents to adopt good summer safety habits, talk to their children about safety, set parameters and stay connected.

"Mom and Dad, regardless of profession, are responsible for their children up to 18 years old 24 hours a day, every day. We want them to be in touch with their kids by phone or in person," said DES Director Rob Nelson.

Parents should also be familiar with USAG Yongsan Policy Letter 1-11 on Standards of Child Supervision in Area II, which establishes minimum acceptable standards for the supervision of children in Area II. Failure to comply with the provisions of the policy are subject to punishment under the U.S. Code of Military Justice, as well as to adverse administrative action.

"We have already had one youth approved for early return of dependent for misconduct. This type of decision can have a negative impact on the whole family. The garrison has also seen it first shoplifting case involving three girls from two families. This is not a great start for these kids," he said.

Child and Youth Services recently released its summer schedule of programs for youths of all ages. These include 10 one-week camps for grades 1-5; summer camp for grades 6-12; swimming and dance lessons June 6 -- Aug. 26 and sports camps for all ages.

"We also have a 'Welcome Fridays' program that gives school-age children, new to Yongsan Garrison, an overview of the schools, School-Age Center & Middle School Teen programs and the Garrison," said School Liaison Officer Valencia Hickey.

Younger children fully engaged in summer activities face another set of safety guidelines that Grace Lee, CYS Program Operations Specialist, said parents should always keep in mind. "Some of these rules sound very basic, but we still see related injuries all the time," she said.
• Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
• Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
• Cover up. Clothing that covers your and your child's skin helps protect against UV rays. Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child goes outside.
• Wear a hat that shades the face, scalp, ears and neck. If your child chooses a baseball cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.
• Wear sunglasses. They protect your child's eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life.
• Check yourself, your children and your environment for ticks.
• Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment.
• Use stair gates, which can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.

When not involved in an activity, children are out and about during the summer. "We are having serious issues with children and teenagers jaywalking, not paying attention when using the crosswalks, wearing earphones while walking near roadways, riding bicycles on the sidewalks and helmet chin straps that are not fastened," said USAG Yongsan safety officer Melanie Hart.

United States Forces Korea Regulation 190-1 on Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision stipulates that bicycles must use the bicycle path or roadway at all times. Riding on the sidewalk is prohibited except when the rider is a child, elderly or physically disabled; when a safety sign is posted allowing bicycles on a particular sidewalk; or when the roadway is severely damaged, under construction or blocked by other obstacles.

The ongoing Crosswalk Safety campaign asks drivers to make eye contact with pedestrians and stop at crosswalks when they are crossing. Military Police officials have been ticketing drivers failing to comply and exceeding speed limits. At night and during hours of darkness, Hart said, it is important to wear reflective materials and always be visible. "Pedestrians walking along a road in dark clothing at night are first seen approximately 55 feet away and the driver's reaction time is less than one second at 60 MPH. The distance needed to stop at 60 MPH is 260 feet and a person wearing reflectors can be seen at least 500 feet away," she said.

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