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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to "Wm. T. Elliott" and his suggestion that "small children should have a whistle tied around their necks when they go on picnics and camping."

Abby, please accept this important reminder to parents: ANY cord, string, necklace or tie around a child's neck could KILL if accidentally snagged by a tree, bush, fence, swing, etc. Parents should really protect little ones by PINNING or CLIPPING on that whistle! –- A CONCERNED PARENT AND PHYSICIAN, TORRANCE, CALIF.

DEAR CONCERNED: I apologize for letting that slip by. You are not the only reader who hastened to point it out. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I agree that supplying a whistle for small children who are camping is a good one. However, since tying anything around the neck of a small child is a strangulation hazard, it would be better to securely attach it to a zipper pull, belt loop or shirt.

When my four children were small, I also laced a small ID tag onto their shoe for family outings -– zoos, hikes, etc. –- in case the child was too frightened or injured to give vital information. Nowadays you can have bracelets made up for that purpose. –- MARY ELLEN HANRAHAN, LYNNWOOD, WASH.

DEAR MARY ELLEN: Thank you for the input. A reader in Clackamas, Ore., also suggests that providing older children with walkie-talkies on camping trips is a good precaution in case they become separated from the family for any reason. That way the child can be heard from more than a mile away.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for printing the letter from "Wm. T. Elliott" about the importance of carrying a whistle while camping.

Abby, a safety whistle should be carried not only while camping or in the woods, but at all times. Boaters carry whistles in case the power goes out and they are stranded. College students carry whistles for safety on campus. The elderly carry whistles in case they are attacked or are physically unable to call for help.

The American Whistle Corp., where I work, is the only manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States. We frequently receive letters from people relating how they have been saved by blowing their whistle while lost in the woods or while being mugged. Our most recent survival story came from a man who was having a heart attack and was unable to yell. He was, however, able to blow his whistle to get attention.

Once again, Abby, your column has been an instrument in saving lives. Thank you. -– JENNIFER BLACKBURN, COLUMBUS, OHIO

DEAR JENNIFER: I am sure many people will find your letter of interest. I am pleased to "blow the whistle" for safety. I have carried a whistle on my key ring for many years.

DEAR ABBY: My friends of many years and I are planning a special beach trip to celebrate a friendship that began in the late '50s in elementary school.

We are big fans of yours and would like to know if you have any words about friendship that you could share with us. It would be an honor and a thrill to hear from you. -– THE YA-YAS

DEAR YA-YAS: Friendship is a gift to be cherished. The way to have a good friend is to BE one!

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600