Here's a terrifying statistic ... According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Missing Children Statistics, on average, a child goes missing every 40 seconds in this country. Over 800,000 kids are reported missing in the U.S. every year. And as any law enforcement officer will tell you, the first few minutes and hours that a child is missing are the most crucial.

Now, I don't want to scare anyone. I'm not the kind of person who keeps my kids bolted in the house because I'm terrified that someone is going to grab them. But I'm also wary ... particularly this time of year when crowds are antsy, parents are stressed, and kids are distracted by every sparkly toy they see. It's easy to see how quickly parents and kids could get separated and how that separation could lead to trouble if the wrong element is nearby.

One thing you can do to keep your kids safe (aside from keeping an iron grip on them at all times,) is to make sure you have accurate information about their height, weight and medical history.  There are a few online resources, like the Amber Alert Registry or Eyedentity Label, that can help you track this type of info, but you can also just make sure you keep current information jotted down at home. Another good idea is to make sure you have up-to-date photos of your kids. 

 Trust me, no one ever expects an emergency, and no one wants to live their lives in fear of one. But it makes sense to take a few minutes every few months to update your child's information ... for her safety and for your own peace of mind.  

Thinking the unthinkable: Missing children
Take time to protect your children from your worst nightmare.