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Daily Pilot

Event helps parents have peace of mind

First Team Estates hosts Child & Family Safety Day, where families learned about ways to keep their children safe.

By Britney Barnes

5:16 PM PST, November 10, 2012

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A Newport Beach realty company opened its doors Saturday for a special event to help families looking for resources to keep their children safe.

First Team Estates' Fashion Island office hosted Child & Family Safety Day, a family event featuring children's fingerprinting, as well as gadgets and information to keep the entire family out of harm. Several gourmet food trucks filled the parking lot, along with a display of Ducati motorcycles and high-end cars.

"We are so interested in giving back to the community that has given us so much," said Debbie Lewandowski, director at First Team Estates. "I just want to thank the community for showing up today and keeping kids safe."

Child safety expert Marc Klaas, founder of KlaasKids Foundation, was on hand to give advice. His foundation promotes awareness and education to protect children against violence and hosts free Print-A-Thon events, where children got fingerprinted.

Klaas said one question he is often asked by parents is how to talk about safety with their children without scaring them. He said events like this are a good place, because there is nothing frightening about them.

"Parents are really fearful for their kids' safety," he said. "They've heard all the stories, they know someone who's been through a trauma."

Klaas recommended starting to talk to kids at about age 3 and telling them where safe places are, safe routes to school and to trust their feelings. He said parents need to know their neighbors, where their children are and talk to their kids about safety on a regular basis.

Amber Alert GPS, a Utah-based company that sells GPS tracking devices and smart phone apps that allow parents to see their child's location in real time, was also showing interested parents what they had to offer. With the device, parents can also view all registered sex offenders in the area.

"You will always know the location of your child," said Lindsey Nichols, office manager at Amber Alert GPS.

In the next booth, Lisa Larkins was showcasing her husband's invention, ARM Safety Button, a smart phone app to deter attackers with flashing lights and a loud alarm that when activated calls 911 and takes pictures of an attacker. Reno resident Johnny Larkins started working on the ARM system after his then 13-year-old daughter was raped by a 29-year-old man.

"He didn't know what to do about it, so to make him feel better, he developed a way to keep others safe," Lisa Larkins said.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes