Amber Alerts - What To Do If Your Child Is Missing - 3 Boys And A Dog:
The link above will take you to the 3 Boys And A Dog blog, where a guest poster, Marc Courtiol. If you have young children, I urge you to read the full text and save it somewhere that you can easily refer to it.
I once had a close call with Miss Sunshine when she was only three. We hadn't lived in our new house that long, and still hadn't installed the central air conditioning unit. It was really hot and I had several windows open in the house. She was sitting in the living room watching television and I had stepped in to the kitchen to start cooking and was also washing a few dishes and had the water running so I didn't hear her.
I did, however, hear the ice cream truck, and a couple of minutes later, I returned to the living room (just steps away from the living room, the kitchen is in the center of the house) and she wasn't there. I looked up and saw that she had pushed a screen out of one of the living room windows and stepped right out onto the front porch.
Beginning to panic, I ran to the back door to slip into my shoes, grabbed my keys, and headed out the back door, where I encountered a neighbor man from a few houses down heading up to my front door. I had a sinking feeling and began to brace myself.
Much to my relief, he said, "If you're looking for your little girl, she's at our house." Thank God, thank God, thank God. I went racing down the street to find her chatting away with the neighbors. I was so frightened and emotional I could barely speak, trying to talk to her leaving the house without mommy and so on.
The neighbors were very nice. They asked if it was the first time she'd ever gotten out, and warned me that it certainly wouldn't be the last. She had heard the ice cream truck and wanted ice cream, so she went out the door. When he left without stopping for her, she then saw the neighbors playing outside with their toddler grandson, and went to visit. I am so grateful that they were the right kind of neighbors.
We hadn't lived there too long, we didn't know anyone, we didn't know the neighborhood, we didn't know the ice cream man. We do now -- it turns out he is also an immigrant from Baba's home country, and he often takes his four children with him along on his route on summer afternoons and evenings. He even memorized my favorite treats last summer when I was pregnant, and new what to give Baba to bring me when I didn't have the energy -- well OK, the appropriate clothing -- to get out to the street.
Anyway, after that Baba and I had several talks with Miss Sunshine about leaving without mommy and daddy, about safety, and dangers, and everything we could think of for a three year old to understand.
Though now, nearly three years later, I still nearly hyperventilate when I remember that day. I can only think of the "what if's" -- What if she'd gotten hit by the ice cream truck? What if she'd been taken by the ice cream truck? Or another car or another stranger? What if that had been the wrong sort of neighbor? She could have been whisked away inside instantly. What if she'd continued wandering?
And this all happened in just TWO OR THREE MINUTES! LESS THAN 5 MINUTES. Yes, afterward, we always say, "but it was just for a minute," or, "but it all happened so fast." It's true though, it does, it only takes a moment to change your life. I was really only steps away, long enough to put on a pan of water to boil and run a sink full of dishwater.
So please, read this article. I feel better for having read it, so that I know exactly what I would need to do if, God forbid, there were ever a "next time."
Here are some highlights from the article:
Step 1: Someone who knows the child should be out actively looking while you are going through the first few steps of the process.
Step 2: If there was ever an emergency, this is it. Pick up the phone and dial 911. Do not worry-they will not dismiss you or tell you your case is not an emergency.
Step 3: Notify other authorities of the missing child.
Step 4: Notify local media.
Step 5: Contact organizations devoted to finding missing children.
Step 6: Ask for help from those around you. This is going to be a difficult time for you. And even if your child comes home safely very soon you are likely to suffer frayed nerves for a while.
Step 7: Follow up on everything. If you feel the law enforcement agencies are taking too long to investigate your case or get back to you, do not be afraid to call and visit them multiple times.