Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How To Prevent A Loved One From Going Missing.

By Cynthia Caron

There is nothing worse than not knowing what happened to a missing loved one.  Just ask any family who is going through the daily fears and emotions.  It’s like a roller coaster ride that you cannot exit.  Is it possible to help prevent a loved one from going missing?  In some cases the answer is yes. Other times a loved one vanishes and there is no way that it could have been preventable.  However, let’s talk about ways that one can help prevent a loved one from going missing.

A common occurrence in the summer are those who go missing due to hiking, swimming or camping solo.  This is never a good idea. Always have a buddy with you.  If you want to hike alone, please bring the necessary emergency supplies that you may need in case something should happen and you may get lost.  Swimming in a lake or ocean is never a good idea to do alone. Too many possibilities exist in which one could have a medical episode, unknown prior, and become lost in the water and essentially drown. While camping is fun, and therapeutic, location is always important. Do not camp on mountain peaks that are close to ledges. There were two cases this past year of people who have actually rolled off cliffs during their sleep.  Also, the same as hiking.  Should one decide they are going on their own to please have emergency supplies, flares, and always let others know the location of where you will be.  Personally I advise to never go alone however I know many people may like the idea of just being with themselves for the quiet and calm of nature. 

Do not let your children lead you.  I cannot stress the importance of this statement.  Far too many children are spending nights at friend’s homes and their parents are not communicating.  Your child must always ask you for permission and it is the responsibility of adults to communicate with each other.  If a child wants to sleep at your home, you have an obligation (legally) to chat with the child’s parents to verify and obtain permission.  Too many times children are reported missing and law enforcement is used when it was a matter of non communication between the adults.

Never let children walk to and from friends homes alone. This should be a no-brainer, however, even in the best of neighborhoods a predator can happen upon a child who is alone.

Cell phones are very important. Always enable your child/teen to have their cell phone. Never ground them and remove their phones when they are away from home. If they are grounded from cell phone use, always give it back to them should they go outside.  Cell phones can be a great GPS tracker should your child be missing. Unfortunately, disposable cell phones do not have this feature. Add your children to your present phone plan and be sure they have a phone that has GPS capabilities. By merely keeping their cell phone on can help aid in locating them.  There are also a number of cell phones that you can actually track your child while they are out.

Always know who your children are with at all times.  Know the parents. Know Who, What, Where and When anytime your child ventures out for an outing.
Who are you going with?
What are the plans?
Where are you going?
When is the outing and what time is it over?

Make it a weekly habit to check for registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. You can even sign up to be notified when one moves in. See:http://www.familywatchdog.us/

For single moms, and dads, it’s critical that any boyfriend that you bring to your home that you have a complete background check BEFORE bringing them. This can cost as little as $25.00 and is vital for the safety of your children.  Regardless of who it is…or how you met…ALWAYS do a background check before putting your children into the lives of someone else.

For those who have cognitive disabilities, such as  Alzheimer’s, autism or other disorders are prone to wandering and could become a missing loved one.  There are a number of products that you can purchase to help keep you alerted to the possibility of your loved one who may wander.  Some of these items can be found under Products at http://www.lostnmissing.com . At the same time, take advantage of a free registry in which you can pre-register those who may possibly wander and become missing at www.missingpatient.com . Should they go missing, all the vital information is held and can be transmitted to your local police department within moments so that a search can proceed.

When adults want to go out to have a good time, always have a designated driver and ALWAYS stay in groups at all times. Young men and women can go missing by circumstances not of their own choice.  Statistically it is much more difficult for an abduction to occur when in groups.  Many times people think only children are abducted. This is not true. Adults are abducted, as well.  There have been a large increase of adults being abducted for use of their ATM card and even being murdered following. This is a terrible crime to happen and in some cases can be prevented if one does not venture off alone or stays in groups.

Sometimes it is not always possible to have a buddy.  In those cases, it is always helpful to have mace, a stun gun or to take a self-defense course.  There are many who work late and may need to walk to their car alone.  Be prepared in case you’re approached.

Staying safe is important. Keeping your loved ones safe is always important. There is no need to be overly paranoid…just a bit of common sense and safety measures can mean the difference between arriving home safely and becoming a missing loved one.  You are important to your family and they to you… let’s help keep each other safe.

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