March 26, 2012
By Pfc. Nicholas S. Ranum
CAMP FOSTER,Okinawa – Leaving children unattended in a vehicle is always illegal, but with rising temperatures will become increasingly dangerous.
Leaving children under the age of 9 unattended in vehicles violates both Marine Corps Bases Japan Order 5800.2E and Kadena Air Base Instruction 31-204.
On both Marine Corps bases and Kadena Air Base, children ages 10 and 11 can be left alone in a vehicle for no more than 15 minutes with the keys removed from the vehicle. Children ages 12 and above can be left unattended in a vehicle as long as the keys are not in the vehicle.
Anyone caught violating the order on a Marine Corps installation can be tried before a hearing and their licenses can be suspended or revoked for three months to a year, said Carl D. Hodges, Inspector General’s office for Marine Corps Installations Pacific. On Kadena, licenses can be revoked on the spot.
The regulations are aimed at ensuring safety.
“The biggest preventative measure is to plan your trip,” said Aaron M. Davis, the supervisory occupational safety and health specialist at the Installation Safety Office on Camp Foster. “If you plan your trip so that you can take your kids with you or have someone in the car with them, then that makes it much easier.”
Leaving children unattended in vehicles can pose serious risks to the child, vehicle and community.
“The dangers of leaving a child alone are twofold,” said Davis. “Besides heat injuries, they can get out of their restraints and move about the car, bumping into buttons and gearshifts. They could put the car into drive accidentally if they want to imitate their parents.”
“Worst case is that a child actually gets out of the vehicle and gets lost,” he said.
In addition to setting boundaries for children in vehicles, MCBJO 5800.2E also provides guidelines on leaving children at home unsupervised.
The order states that starting at 10 years of age a child may be left at home for no more than six hours with physical access to a designated adult or care provider such as a nearby neighbor. Under the age of 10, children may not be left at alone in quarters without immediate supervision.
For more information, contact the Marine Corps Base Camp Butler Installation Safety Office at 645-2039.