Helping parents be prepared; An app for emergencies

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - You're shopping at the mall with your children when one suddenly disappears. A quick search of the area is unsuccessful. Then people step in to help, but answering simple questions like what your child was wearing or their height and weight get tougher in moments of panic. The FBI wanted to help parents in frightening situations so they came up with a way to electronically store information that counts in the event of an emergency.

A child's curiosity keeps parents on their toes, and toddler, Finley O'Dell is no different when it comes to keeping his mother, Laura, very busy.

"He's constantly moving, and all over the place," Boise mother, Laura O'Dell said.

Laura knows it only takes a split second for a child to disappear. The FBI reports more than 300,000 children and teens disappeared last year. A huge majority of that number were runaways, but reports show more than 400 children were kidnapped by a stranger.

"It is an anxiety that you have. You just don't want anything to happen, it's scary," Laura O'Dell said.

The FBI is working to lessen that anxiety, which is why it created the Child ID App. In case of an emergency, the app allows you to email critical information to anyone who needs it. The app stores a picture, which parents can update at any time, your address, phone number, your child's physical traits and identifying characteristics like a missing tooth or birthmark. This information can greatly aid authorities in an immediate search for your child.

"Seconds count when children go missing. Fortunately, most children are missing only temporarily, however sometimes we need the eyes and the ears of the public and police officers looking for our children, to be able to find them right away," FBI spokesperson, Debbie Betram, told KBOI.

The app has more than 130,000 downloads to date and it works on both iPhone and Androids. It's also password protected, so if your phone falls into the wrong hands that doesn't mean your child's information does.

The FBI says it's an app designed to empower parents.

"I think that's ideal for parents to be able to get that out to who needs it right away," Laura O'Dell said after learning about the app.

O'Dell said she is happy technology like this can help keep her high energy little guy out of harm's way.

"I think I will go an download it on my phone, my husband's phone and probably my parents as well," O'Dell said.

The app also comes with safety tips and allows you to get into contact with police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. KBOI has placed brochures in our station lobby with QR codes on the back to help you download the app.