Columbia County deputies offer child safety tips

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It's every parent's worst nightmare, and one most would rather never think about.

But Columbia County investigators are asking: if your child goes missing, are you prepared?

It's as simple as a quick snap of a photo and a set of fingerprints.

That could mean the difference between life and death when investigators are searching for your child.

"When your child comes up missing, it's very stressful, and you don't want to be rummaging through your purse or having to call home if you're on vacation to try to get a current photo of your child," says Columbia County deputy Kara McGahee.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of children are reported missing.

A startling 74% of those who are murdered are dead within three hours.

"I taught my kids not to talk to strangers, not to leave, they know to stay with me," says parent Jennifer Howard. "But you never know."

"You want the kids to play, but you're afraid to let them do anything because you don't know what pervert's going to be around trying to kidnap them or hurt them," says parent Kristina Westercook.

It's why the Columbia County Sheriff's Office is providing parents with a free record book that lets you update your child's information as they grow.

Deputies say you should keep the book updated every six to 12 months.

Include your child's current weight, height and age. Keep the book in your purse, diaper bag or another place you can easily get to.