Missing children. Their pictures are on flyers in the mall, on the wall in post offices, and perhaps even on the side of milk cartons. And, while their parents may have been aware of the dangers of kidnapping or being separated from a child during a natural disaster, at least a few probably never thought it would ever happen to their own child.
There are ways for parents to prepare in case such an unfortunate incident does occur, which the purpose of the free "Protect Your Child" event being held today at Nikiski Fire Station No. 1 from 2 to 5 p.m.
"We're interested in helping parents prepare emergency information about their children to be used in the event of a natural disaster or other incident," said Maggie Braun, a Nikiski High School student who came up with the idea for the event as part of meeting her free public service project requirements for the Caring for the Kenai contest.
Caring for the Kenai challenges high school students to answer the question "what can I do, invent, or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to help improve the area's preparedness for a natural disaster?"
Braun said in this area earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions are all possible, and should one of these natural events occur on a cataclysmic level, parents need to be prepared.
"During a disaster, schools go into lock-down and they can't release kids unless their parents can prove who they area," Braun said.
As such, Braun and her Caring for the Kenai partner Bob Seater, have organized packets and information to be given to parents at the "Protect our Child" event. The packets will help parents put all the vital information about their children in one place so they can give authorities the needed information during a lock-down, or if a child is ever abducted or lost.
"They can then be organized by parents to include identifying data such as a child's hair and eye color, height, weight, fingerprints, a photo, dental records and even a place to keep a lock of hair, for DNA," Braun said.
Lucas Peless, a teacher at Nikiski High School and one of Braun's advisers on the project, said parents shouldn't have privacy concerns about coming to the event, because they aren't giving any of their personal information to anyone associated with the event.
"The students aren't collecting the information. They're just providing parents with information on what they need to do to protect their children," he said.
Even fingerprints cards taken by the Kenai Police Department will be sent home with parents.
Braun said the purpose of the project is to help the community, and she thinks the packets could help parents in an emergency situation where time is of the essence.
"Hopefully they'll never need it, but if they do, the information will be there," she said.
For more information on the "Protect Your Child" event, contact Maggie Braun at 907-776-5398.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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