By Don Robbins, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsJuly 31, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Children learned how to be responsible and take charge when they're home alone during a class at the Kalakaua Community Center, here, July 22.
Many children, commonly referred to as "latchkey kids," come home from school to an empty house and will be alone until their parents come home from work.
To teach children how to deal with strangers, first aid, fire safety and Internet safety, the Army Community Service (ACS) Family Advocacy Program (FAP) offers the Home Alone education class geared towards keiki ages 9-11 prior to every school break.
Lessons are taught through presentations made by subject matter experts, fun games and quizzes to keep the children on their toes.
Roma Rapoza, inspector with the Federal Fire Department (FFD), joined by firefighters Matt Fujimoto, Barron Choy, Dan Bennett and Capt. Ron Akiyama, started off the day as the first team of presenters.
With their well-equipped red fire truck parked behind them, the FFD team had no trouble keeping the children's attention as they discussed fire safety and showed the flashlights, medical supplies, water hoses and pumps they use.
Choy demonstrated the fire protective gear, helmet and mask, including a self-contained breathing apparatus used to breathe fresh air rather than smoke.
During the presentation, Rapoza said family fire drills should be practiced at least once a month.
"I learned don't use the stove when your parents are gone. Don't open the door when you're home alone, and don't mess with lighters," said 10-year-old Corbin Rivera, who attended the class with more than 20 other children.
"I learned to test smoke detectors once a month," chimed in Tully Boylan, 10.
Besides the firefighters, Louise Johnson, Army public health nurse, taught the keiki how, why and when to call 911.
Johnson explained basic first aid procedures, such as how to tend to minor cuts by washing and applying pressure to stop bleeding. She talked about simple ways to avoid injury and urged them not to jump up and down on the sofa.
Johnson also discussed what to do when a sibling is choking, how to stop nosebleeds and how to cope with minor burns and bruises.
Military Police officers with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) team talked to children about personal and Internet safety.
Catherine Ignacio, prevention specialist, said the DARE officers discussed the need for children to always have parental consent when entering a Web site and to delete any suspicious looking e-mail they receive.
Additionally, officers told kids not to provide personal information to anyone they don't know.
"Even if you do know the person, don't give out any information without your parents' permission," an officer said.
"The kids really enjoyed the class," said Deidra Saina, licensed master social worker (LMSW) and prevention specialist, FAP.
After the presentations, the children played a memory game to help reinforce what they had learned during the class.
The day concluded with a graduation ceremony and group photo; each child received a certificate of completion.
The next session of the Home Alone class is scheduled this fall. For more information on how to sign up your child, call Catherine Ignacio, prevention specialist, at 808-655-6215, or Deidra Saina at 808-655-1670.