I love living in Bellevue, WA. Yesterday the local police and fire department help a Child Safety Day at Factoria Mall here in Bellevue, WA. It was GREAT. They had booths and presentations from a number of local non-profits, the Bellevue WA Police Department, and the Bellevue WA Fire Department talking about child safety in the 21st century.
I have been a parent for 5 years now and I learned A LOT. Of course, there were presentations on the importance of bike helmets with regard to child safety, but I learned the most about registering your children with the local police and fire departments. In the greater Seattle area, we have child safety signs across the highway that flash Amber alerts when children are abducted. One showed up recently. I guess that is why this is top of mind right now. The DNA Cotton Swab, described below, was new to me and an EASY AND GREAT child safety idea, given advances in technology.
Here the top child safety tips from the Bellevue WA Police Department in terms of registering your child:
- EMERGENCY INFORMATION: Make sure you fill out an emergency information sheet for each child. This piece of paper should include the standard contact information for emergencies, but should also include medical information (allergies, medication, etc) and information on favorites foods and places. More and more families are starting to use a secret code word that can be used for children to verify the identity of adults who are trustworthy versus strangers. Make sure the local police and fire department have this information at a minimum. All emergency contacts should also have this information. Here are links to Child Safety Emergency Contact Forms in Word Format or in Adobe Acrobat PDF form that I put together. Please share, re-share, adapt, and make these child safety forms your own.
- FINGERPRINTS: Take your kids fingerprints. This is basic child safety, but essential to child safety. Keep a copy at home. Make sure the police have a copy. This is basic but very important. You can buy a basic fingerprinting kit online or in the store. Here is a good link that discusses fingerprinting your child. The police department did this child safety basic for us at the mall.
- RECENT PICTURES: Make sure you and the police department have recent pictures of your children. This should include a clear, head-on picture as well as a profile picture.
DNA SWABS: I was suprised by this one. Child safety tips 1, 2, and 3 have been around since I was a child, but saving a cotton swab in the freezer is new and pretty ingenious. Here is what you need to do.
- Find a cotton swab.
- Have your child open his or her mouth.
- Rub the inside of both cheeks with the cotton swab.
- Put the cotton swab in a zip lock bag.
- Label the zip lock bag with his or her name and the date.
- Put the zip lock bag in the back of the freezer.
- Repeat this every two years.
- Parents should do this as well.
- It's that easy. In the event something does happen (God forbid), you have a DNA sample that you can quickly hand over to the authorities.
The Bellevue WA Police Department helped us collect all this great information related to child safety. They took the finger prints, picture and emergency information. They will be mailing it back to us once it is entered into their database. They DID NOT take the cotton swab. The DNA cotton swab we just took home and have put in the freezer in a safe place. My wife and I need to create our DNA Cotton Swabs tonight as well for our safety as well.
There is nothing that hurts me more than seeing a child safety Amber Alert on the highway. Obviously, you need to protect your children and teach them properly in terms of where to go and not to go, who to speak with and who to avoid. But in the off-chance that something happens, make sure you are prepared!
Rainers, feel free to re-blog, adapt and amend, as I believe it is critical for our local communities to protect our children and focus on child safety.