Leave no child alone: Proper supervision ensures child safety

  • Published
  • By Capt. Erika Best
  • Ramstein Family Advocacy Program
According Safe Kids USA, March 8 marked the first child-related vehicular tragedy of the year when a mother came out of work only to realize she had left her 6-year-old daughter in the car.

There were 49 similar deaths recorded in 2010, and 494 on record since 1998, most occurring with children under the age of three. In 30 percent of these cases, the child was playing in the vehicle, unattended. In another 17 percent of these cases, the child was intentionally left unattended by the caregiver.

The Kaiserslautern Military Community Child Supervision Matrix states that children under the age of 10 are never to be left unattended in a vehicle because of the obvious dangers associated with doing so.

One of the risks that caused the 49 deaths from last year is heat stroke. But what is important to note, is that these tragic incidents can occur on days with relatively mild temperatures. In just 10 minutes, a vehicle's interior temperature can increase by 19 degrees and in one or two hours, it can rise 45 to 50 degrees.

Unfortunately, some parents continue to leave their children unattended despite the risks and written guidance provided, even throughout the KMC.

During the 2010 fiscal year, nearly 70 percent of child maltreatment referrals processed by the Ramstein Family Advocacy Program were for acts of neglect -- many for lack of supervision like this.

Remember, heat stroke related deaths are all preventable.

In honor of child abuse prevention month, let's all do our part to protect children. Consider the following suggestions:
· Never leave children unattended in a car. Even with the window open.
· Place something valuable (telephone, ID card, purse, etc.) on the floor, near the child's seat so that the child is in sight when reaching for belongings.
· Teach children not to play in cars.
· Keep car doors and trunk secured when the vehicle is not in use.

For more information on child safety topics, please contact the Family Advocacy Program at 06371-462370 or visit the Safe Kids USA website at www.safekids.org  .

For your own copy of the KMC Child Supervision Policy, go to the Ramstein Newcomer's Web site at www.ramstein.af.mil/newcomersinfo .