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When we travel to new places or to events with a large crowd I have two fears on my mind: that my child will get into an accident or that he’ll get away from us. Shivers from the thought of either of those things happening.
It’s hard to accept, but the truth is that Moms aren’t the superheroes we wish to be. We can’t see the future, we can’t be in all places all the time, we don’t have x-ray vision, we can’t control other people, and we can’t always prevent accidents from happening.
What we can do is prepare to keep kids safe whenever possible!
Whether you’re traveling on a plane with a toddler, going to a holiday festival, visiting a crowded city or country, or just the mall it’s good to have some ideas of how to keep your kid safe around new people.
1. Teach Your Child His/ Her Name, Yours, and Your Phone Number
This is information that could help someone reunite you. They may be able to page you by name over an intercom, or help yell your name in public. It will also help the adults around calm your child if they are able to call him or her by name.
Others may also want to teach their children their address, but if you’re traveling consistently this could become a problem. How well will they be able to keep track of where they’re staying this time? It’s a useful bit of information if they need to call someone on your behalf in case of emergency, but the odds of where you’re staying being useful if lost is lower.
It’s better to teach them your phone number, as you’ll most likely have one on you.
2. Teach Your Child to Find Someone Trustworthy If Separated
I was at a theme park with my family a few months ago and a little girl tearfully came up to me asking me to help her find her mom. At the time I was taking pictures of my son, laughing with him past my camera. It occured to me that this girl’s mom probably trainer her to look for another mommy; someone who might even be taking pictures (as Moms so often do!). How smart? Luckily a park employee saw me talking to this new child and quickly came over to make sure we were all alright and helped her find her own parents.
Finding another Mom is a great habit to teach young children. Moms will be able to empathize with a lost child or frantic parent, because it’s our own worst fear!
Another idea is to find an official. Teach your kids to look for someone in a uniform, STAFF shirt, or wearing a name badge. Those people have been trained on protocols of where to take and how to handle lost children. If you fear that officials don’t have the best intentions, teach your child the Mother Method!
3. Dress Your Child in Bright Colors
The most common tip of all, this could also be the most helpful. Dressing your child in bright, neon colors will help him or her stand out because those colors are some of the least popular (for full color, anyway.)
4. Have Your Child Wear an Accessory
One mother who travels full-time with her children says she makes her daughter wear a pair of bunny ears when in crowds. If her daughter runs around, all this mom needs to look for are tall bunny ears!
Another mom dresses her daughter in a rainbow poncho. It’s easy to recognize a rainbow running around!
No matter what you choose, consider a neon hat, light-up shoes, or other unique, recognizable accessory you’ll be able to spot quickly or tell others to look for.
5. Give Your Child Dogtags
Dogtags are a set of small metal plates engraved with personal information which are worn as a long necklace. For members of the military, dogtags lay comfortably down their torso and can help identify anyone who has been in an accident. You can have military-style dogtags engraved >here <with a phone number or name to contact in case of emergency, or make your own with a necklace chain and luggage tag.
In a pinch (or if your kid hates the feeling of wearing something on his or her neck), you could also write contact information on a disposable luggage tag and tie it around a belt loop!
6. Write Important Information on Your Child’s Arm
This is a tip from other parents who travel full-time with their kids. One says that she writes her phone number on her child’s arm when they will be in a crowd so that authorities will be able to contact her as quickly as possible!
7. Give Your Child a Picture of You
If your child is rattled or upset, a picture of you could really help an official reunite you! Your child may not be able to describe you very well (have they ever had to?) when upset, so this way an official will know who to look for in the crowd.
Print a picture of you (or another responsible family member) and keep it in your child’s pocket. Move it from outfit to outfit as part of your morning routine.
8. Keep a Picture of Your Child
You’ll want to show authorities a picture if your child goes missing. You may be upset and not able to articulate the sort of details they’ll need to know to be able to find your son or daughter. Luckily parents are great at taking picture of their kids, so pull out that smart phone!
Prepare by making a folder in your photos app of your child where he or she is clearly visible with close-ups of his/ her face as well as some full body. Include pictures where your child is upset or dirty, as this may be the state he or she will be in when lost.
9. Dress Your Kids in Matching Shirts
If you have more than one kid this tip could really help! If they are wearing matching shirts and one goes missing it will be easy to show an officer what exactly they are looking for. “My son is wearing this shirt, but he’s smaller.”
10. Practice What to do if Lost With Your Child
In a moment of panic your child may not remember what you’ve taught him or her. Increase your chances of things going right by practicing! Practicing anything helps that information store in your brain, after all. Have a family activity where child can rehearse his or name, yours, your phone number, or any other important information you want him to be able to recite. Go over whom your child should contact in case of emergency. Pretend you’re in a crowd and have your child rehearse finding an adult and giving telling them how to find you.
If is my sincerest hope that my child and yours will never need these tips, but I know it makes me feel better to prepare my son just in case he’s ever lost! Remember that you aren’t perfect and you can’t prevent accidents, but these tips could help you and your child in case of emergency. Good luck, and remember not to let fears deter you from having fun and experiencing new things. All we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst! Let’s keep kids safe!
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