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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: As the summer progresses, many people will try recreational scuba diving for fun. Please warn your readers how dangerous scuba diving can be.

Abby, three years ago, our 21-year-old son, Randall, decided to take a break from his studies and be a foreign missionary. He went on vacation with friends, and while scuba diving had an attack of asthma. Only after his death did we learn about the danger of diving when one has a serious medical condition.

According to a study titled "Medical Examination of Sports Scuba Divers," edited by Dr. Alfred Bove, no one should dive if he or she has chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, headaches, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, etc.

Also, divers should wear a buoyance compensation device. It costs about $150 and will take a diver to the surface and keep him or her buoyant until help arrives.

Our hope is that others will now be more cautious. If you publish this information, you will save many lives. -- SARAH MOODY, CHARLESTON, S.C.

DEAR SARAH: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your son. Scuba diving is a popular sport that requires training and certification, and I hope your warning will be heeded by amateurs who consider sampling its pleasures.

DEAR ABBY: Something happened that has changed me forever. One night I attended a concert at my church. Because I'm on the refreshment committee, I stayed afterward with a girlfriend to clean up.

Everyone else had left. We had just finished sweeping and gathering trash, when I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a homeless woman. I was so taken aback, I was speechless. She admitted being drunk and said she had nowhere to go for the night.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I had no idea what to tell her. I finally asked if there was someone I could call for her, but she said no. She didn't ask for food or money -- she just stood there. Here was a woman in great need -- standing in my church reaching out for help -- and I had no answer. I felt helpless.

After she walked out, I was overwhelmed with sadness that I had sent her out into the cold to sleep. Only then did I realize I could have called our local women's shelter or the local mission. I don't know that she would have gone, but I could've at least offered to make the call.

I sit here tonight knowing I failed her. It has tormented me ever since, and while I know I cannot change the past, I hope something good will come from this experience.

Abby, I am asking each of your readers to go to their phone books and jot down the numbers of local shelters and rescue missions, then slip the list into their wallets. They may never need to use it, but if the opportunity arises, they could make it possible for one less person to be on the streets. -- HOPING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

DEAR HOPING: Please stop feeling guilty. You were startled by the woman's presence and could not collect your thoughts.

You've given my readers and me a helpful suggestion. By writing this letter you have perhaps helped thousands of other homeless people, and for that I thank you.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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