Thursday, April 22, 2004
What Would You Do: Lost Child
It's enough to make any parent panic. You arrive home and you notice your child's missing. For most people, their gut reaction is to search first... Call the police second. But it turns out this is actually the wrong reaction. What should you do? Here are some tips.
(WSVN) -- "I was panicking. My heart was racing," says Dawn Pettit. Her daughter Savannah disappeared a few months ago.
"All I thought about is where is she, and where can I find her," she says.
Dawn was lucky... Her little girl was right around the corner.
But not all parents are so fortunate.
We've all witnessed hundreds of stories where missing kids never return home again.
So what would you do?
Well, very often, finding a lost child depends on how Mom and Dad react from the second the child goes missing.
"We find that many parents spend a great deal of time looking through the house, looking in the house, trying to find the child," says Police Captain Jeff Mazlin.
Captain Mazlin says the number one rule of thumb is stay calm, make a quick search of the house, and then call 9-1-1.
"And the reason making that call is so important, is if something did happen to your kid... every moment counts," he says.
If you spend a half-hour... forty-five minutes searching yourself.
"That's a half-hour forty five minutes that your child could have been away, or even in further danger, whether drowning or abduction," says Captain Mazlin.
Instead, your best move is to search the areas your child could be hurt while you're on the phone with 9-1-1.
"Check the pool, check the canal, check the street," saysCaptain Mazlin.
Then - begin looking for anything that seems unusual.
A door left open.
An abandoned bike.
Talk to your neighbors.
And look in spots where your child might go to play... or to hide.
"Know your area, and know your surroundings," says Captain Mazlin.
When the police do arrive you should be ready to describe your child.
Have a current photo and know what he or she is wearing.
"As detailed of a description as possible," emphasizes Captain Mazlin.
We put our mom to the test.
Dawn says,"She is wearing checkered pants. She's wearing a yellow shirt with butterflies on it. A scarf on her head."
Right on target. If Savanah was missing, police knew exactly who they were looking for.
And if she did turn up at a friend's house...
Captain Mazlin says,"Always safe then sorry, no matter what the incident is."
Next week, we begin a month-long series - what would you do to conquer your biggest fears?
First up - public speaking.
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