School’s out for summer; who’s watching your kids?

National Safety Month 2018 logo from the National Safety Council (Used with permission).

National Safety Month 2018 logo from the National Safety Council (Used with permission).

Summer is a very busy time for parents and babysitters. However it is important to protect your children, especially the most vulnerable who are in car seats. According to the National Safety Council, 37 children die each year after being left in hot cars. Don't let your child be added to this national average. (Courtesy photo)

Summer is a very busy time for parents and babysitters. However it is important to protect your children, especially the most vulnerable who are in car seats. According to the National Safety Council, 37 children die each year after being left in hot cars. Don't let your child be added to this national average. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – School’s out for summer; however, many parents still have to work, and their older children are oftentimes left in charge of their younger siblings.

The National Safety Council designates June as National Safety Month, and being safe is a planned and intentional process that a person doesn’t just stumble upon. So it’s important that the sibling-in-charge, or SIC, is responsible and has been trained and certified in CPR. Also, that SIC should know the ground rules of what they can or can’t do: take kids to the park or to the mall (if old enough to drive and are licensed), or take kids swimming, etc. Additionally, a 17-year-old can drive as many as there are seatbelts in their car.

“Supervising children is one of the most important things that parents and caregivers can do to keep their children safe,” said Beverley Knight-Stukenborg, Family Advocacy Outreach manager, with the 88th Medical Operations Squadron, here. “Children [thrive] when they are raised in a home of structure, guidance, love and limits.”

“One in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also said that children from ages 1-4 drown in pools at a residence. So, it is important that the sitter makes sure that pools at their residence are not accessible and the sitter isn’t preoccupied on their computer or cell phone.

Because kids will be kids, and as seen during the school year, some have taken dangerous “challenges” that have ended in hospitalizations and even death. Talk with your children about what is expected of them in your absence, and that they are required to listen to the SIC.

Parents should “look for opportunities to have [their] teenager take charge of the younger ones while [the parents] are still at home, and help them find activities to do with their siblings,” said a Red Cross injury prevention manager, quoted in Today’s Parent Newsletter.

Additionally, whether on or off base, if there are firearms in the home, they should be safely stored and locked to prevent accidents and deaths. For on-base residents, the 88th Security Forces Squadron can provide information and guidance regarding Conceal/Carry laws as it pertains to the base by calling, 937-522-4211. Off-base residents must abide by their county’s rules.

For on-base families, children under 10 years old can’t be left alone in base homes, automobiles or other locations unless they are supervised by an individual 12 years or older. Under Wright-Patt’s Home Alone policy: https://www.88thfss.com/pdf/homealone.pdf, “age is not the only factor parents should consider when determining if children should be left alone.” Here are the other factors base residents should consider:

-- Level of maturity—just because a teen is 17, doesn’t mean they are mature enough to look after other siblings.

-- Emotional development

-- Physical health

-- Length of time they are alone with younger children/8-hours, overnight, over a weekend

-- Time of day or night

-- Other children to be supervised

The base has guidelines for babysitting siblings say children ages 12-13 can babysit family members who are at least 4 years old. Teens 14 years and over can babysit family members from infants, toddlers and older children. The teen should have successfully completed an approved babysitting course.

Knight-Stukenborg said, “the safety, care, well-being and behavior of dependent children is the ultimate responsibility of the parent, whether they are there to personally supervise them or not.  Should parents desire to learn new parenting skills, Family Advocacy offers a class: Parenting with Love and Logic, a fun and interactive class. Contact Family Advocacy at 937-257-3542 to sign up for the next scheduled class."