Feb. 12 editorial: A scary thing moves from rare to real

Feb. 12, 2011

The report would send a chill through any parent: An attempted abduction of a 7-year-old girl occurred in Odell.

This is fearful stuff, made no less so by the law enforcement's statements that this is an extremely rare event in our community.

When something like this happens once, it's no longer a rarity.

The facts that have been made public are these, according to Hood River County Sheriff's Detective Matt English: a white male, between 20 and 30 years old at approximately 6 feet tall, approached the girl and tried to entice her to accompany him. When the child refused, the suspect attempted to physically take the girl from her yard. The victim reported that he grabbed her arm. The girl was able to alert her mother, who came outside to investigate.

(See page A1 for details on the suspect and vehicle description.)

One fact is frightening and reassuring at the same time: The girl's mother was home, and protected her daughter.

The girl was not alone; but this is the sort of thing that can happen in broad daylight, in front of one's own home.

However, Detective Matt English's advice is well-stated and it points to the need to talk with our children about what to do whether or not a parent or caregiver is around: "Be vigilant about knowing where your children are and educate your children about how to protect themselves if they are approached." (The schools have indicated they will review stay-safe measures with students.)

The sheriff's department investigated on Monday and then worked with the school district to inform the community. Official public information on the incident was distributed by the sheriff's office through the school district on Monday afternoon, and sent home with children Tuesday after school.

Certainly it was critical to inform parents, via flyers as well as school websites, but it reflects one precept that deserves examination: There are other stakeholders to consider as well. How do you inform community groups serving children in the area that are not necessarily affiliated with the school district?

There was logic and reason in the way the sheriff's department and the schools coordinated their efforts, but the main takeaway from the incident is this: Earlier, broader notification of the community could have taken place. We can, and should, learn from this no-longer-rare incident.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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