January 13th is AMBER Alert Awareness Day. It is a day that originated in the U.S., but is now recognized in 22 other countries as well! So what is AMBER Alert Awareness Day you might be asking? It goes back to 1996 when 9 year old Amber Hagerman was unfortunately abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas. The first AMBER Alert occurred when local police and broadcasters cooperated to develop a system for helping find abducted children in the early stages of the emergency, now called an AMBER Alert. Now, there are AMBER Alert systems across the country.

Many of you are probably familiar with an AMBER Alert. Often, you’ll receive a text notification with information about a missing child and perhaps a car description to look for. They can also be distributed on electronic highway signs, radio, television, and internet ads.

If your child goes missing, time is of the essence. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the first 48 hours are the most critical. Here are a few tips that we suggest to protect your children and make sure you are prepared in case of an emergency:

  1. Know where your child is and who they are with at all times. If possible, ensure that they are playing within your sight and are close by in case you need to help them. Teach your child what to do in a situation where a stranger might approach them.
  2. Have current information about your child handy. This includes descriptive information such as height, weight, age, eye color, hair color, what they are wearing that day, etc. A recent photo of them, within the last 6 months, is highly recommended as well. The more information you have the better because it will allow others to easily identify and search for your child.
  3. In an emergency situation, contact law enforcement immediately. Remember, time is of the essence. Make sure you have your child’s information ready, as well as how much time has passed since you’ve noticed your child is missing.The quicker you can contact authorities, the quicker they can become mobilized and an organized search can begin.
  4. In addition to calling law enforcement, we recommend contacting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for additional support. You can contact them at 1-800-843-5678. They have additional resources that we feel are helpful.
  5. Check areas your child might be hiding or likes to play at. This could include closets, under beds, in cars, the backyard, playgrounds, etc.

Information about AMBER Alert Awareness Day gathered from the U.S. Department of Justice AMBER Alert website. For more information, you can visit it here: https://www.amberalert.gov/faqs.htm

Helpful information about what to do when your child goes missing can also be found on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website here: http://www.missingkids.com/gethelpnow/missingchild

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