I learned something very interesting today!

Last night, I was at home sticking little Easter decals on Jamie’s bedroom window. Suddenly, it occured to me that I needed to call the Fire Department at some point, and arrange to pick up one of those little shiny “TOT Finders” stickers that go in nursery windows. (For those of you who are not familiar with them, they exist so that in case of a fire, the rescue team knows which room is the baby’s and can rescue your little one first.)

TOT Finder

When I called the Carbondale Fire Department on my lunch hour today, I was told that they no longer have the sticker campaign because “people sometimes move and forget to take them down, and the new people leave it up when there’s no kid in that room,” which is “misleading to a fireman.” They put me in touch with the City of Carbondale’s Fire Chief’s office, where I was given the exact same answer. 

This seemed like a kind of flimsy reason to stop a campaign that has saved thousands of little children over the years, so I decided to pursue it a bit further.

My co-worker, Joanie, is married to a Springfield firefighters’ lobbyist. I emailed her and asked her if she knew anywhere I might be able to find one of these stickers still, or at least if she knew of any other reason they stopped the campaign than what I’d been told.

She agreed that the excuse I’d been given was a silly one, and was curious herself, so she agreed to do some extra sleuth work for me. She made a few phone calls to the right people, and had the real answer in no time. What she found out, in the end, was really smart, and neither of us ever would have thought of it on our own.

It turns out, the whole country has shyed away from this practice during the last few years for one looming reason:

Sexual predators.

I guess now that I think about it, that does make it pretty easy for them, huh? But meanwhile, what do we do instead to let rescuers know where to find our kids in case of an emergency?

Joanie asked “her people” this question, and I guess they’re actually currently trying to come up with a solution to this problem, but nothing has presented itself yet. I wonder what can be done. I mean, theoretically, you could register with your local emergency response headquarters with some sort of directions that would pop up when the dispatcher looked up your address, like, “Northeast window–baby’s room,” or something, but what about all the little towns where no one is left behind at the station when something happens?

I’m stumped. But it’s something to think about. And meanwhile, if anyone reading this DOES have one of those old-school-type stickers in their kids’ windows, you might want to consider taking them out, unless you want to become a beacon for perverts and baby-snatchers.

Just thought you might want to know.

****Author’s update: I have located a website online where you can purchase sets of these stickers (one to go on the interior door of your house, which may still be a good idea, and one that goes in the window, which we know is bad…) The address is: www.kidsnhere.com but they cost $9.99 per set!

I have also located one spot online where you can purchase the actual “TOT finder” sticker…it looks like now they, too, are encouraging using it on interior bedroom doors, so maybe that would be OK….The link for this is: http://www.totfinder.com/totfinder.asp but it costs $4.95 per set of two.

Guess you can’t protect your kids for free anymore!