Kuki News brings the disturbing, but frankly hardly surprising, news that safety equipment at Korean kindergartens and preschools is not what it ought to be.
Update: Check out this slide as well.
A study has found that owing to their steep slopes, slides being used as emergency exits at multi-story kindergartens and preschools remain as dangerous as ever. Since 2005 the government has required multi-story preschools and kindergartens to install stairs and slides as emergency exits but the businesses have failed to comply with basic standards, including incline levels. A further problem is that while some locations have been evaluated there is no particular system in place.
We are at a preschool in the Gangbuk area of Seoul on the 4th. The slide attached to the exterior of the building is steeply inclined for a two-story length. And the slide is being supported by two rusted pipes not 5 centimeters in diameter. Though it is fixed to the second-floor wall, it is doubtful these pipes can sustain the load of several young children. If a fire or other emergency occurs and the children head onto the slide one after another it may collapse.
Next to the slide is a notice declaring that the slide was inspected in October of last year by the former Ministry of Gender and Family Equality (now the Ministry of Health and Welfare). The slide is unsuitable as an emergency exit but the government guarantees its safety for young children.
Other emergency exits for children are similar. 60-year old Yun Deok-hyeon, chief of the Korea Edu-Care Association (한국보육시설연합회), said, “even when a slide is installed on a building it is difficult to confirm it has sufficient structural integrity. There are many such cases in the city.”
The principal reason is the total lack of even basic regulation of the installation of slides as emergency exits. After the deaths of 19 kindergarten students in the Sealand fire in 1999, the government required multi-story kindergartens to install emergency exits. But, said the Ministry’s safety chief Jeong Yeong-hun, “the law still contains no standards for the use of slides as emergency exits. We were entrusted to do that.” But the government has not grasped the results of the 2007 survey of safety equipment at 30,856 multi-story locations nationwide.
This is because a score of 73.3 is enough to pass a safety inspection in which the total score is the main factor, even if an unsafe slide is present.
33-year old Mr. Baek, who lives in Weolgye-dong in Seoul, said, “we have to put up with insufficient safety equipment and practices, but isn’t the connection to life different? When safety is treated the same as other goals, there’s a problem.”
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