It is every parent's nightmare: Browsing in a shopping mall, you become distracted for a few critical moments and look up to discover that your child is missing. Usually, the youngster is nearby. But sometimes, it can take several hours to locate the child, and during this period you fear the worst.
To help lost children summon help, engineer Stephen M. Betheil, president of Nimrod International Sales Inc. in Clarksburg, N. J., has designed a special automatic dialer called Phone Home. Smaller than a deck of cards, it has just one button and stores a single phone number. Hold the device to the mouthpiece of any phone, press the button, and it automatically calls home -- collect. Whoever answers can ask the operator for the calling number. So, even if the child is too young to explain where he or she is, the police can track down the phone's location. Phone Home is being marketed by T&M Security Service Inc. in New York and will be available in discount and variety stores for about $20.