After writing about taking Addie to downtown Indianapolis during the Super Bowl, I was contacted by a local hospital about keeping kids safe as you head into crowded places. Super Bowl aside, we take our kids out in public all the time. Some places are more crowded than others, but the panic that comes over a parent when they don’t see their child is the same in a crowd of 100 or a crowd of 100,000.
Three years ago we were at Disney World when a woman’s son went missing. She was hysterical but thankfully Disney had a very thorough method for finding lost children. Watching her was heartbreaking and I did my best to console her, and in the end her seven year old son came back smiling as if nothing had ever happened. (I have a feeling she wanted to both strangle and smother him with love all at once.)
The good news is that there are easy ways to instill confidence in your child in case they do go missing without freaking them out about stranger danger.
Know Before You Go 1 of 6Before you get to where you're going, find out about lost and found or security offices. If there isn't a designated place for lost parents or children pick somewhere obvious and easy to find to meet up if anyone goes missing. (If you are going to the Super Bowl there will not be lost and found, instead there will be hospitality tables where official staff will have the ability to communicate via radio with other workers and volunteers.)
Take a Photo 2 of 6As soon as you get to where you're headed, take a photo of your child with your smart phone so you have a photo of them in what they're wearing to show authorities in case they do go missing.
STAY PUT 3 of 6Teach your child to stay put, that mom and dad are the ones that went and got themselves lost and they'll find their way back. My dad once noticed that I had wandered off and he followed me around to see what I'd do and where I'd go. (I didn't go where I was supposed to, nor did I do anything right. Whoops.)
Teach Kids Whom to Trust 4 of 6Teach your child about people they can go to and ask for help. When you get to where you're going show your child what employees look like, whether it's name tags or uniforms.. Police, security guards and moms with kids are also people they can ask for help from (anyone else singing Safety Kids in their head?)
Tag Them 5 of 6Older children should know your phone number, younger children can be "tagged" with wristbands or tape inside of a shoe. Write your name, their name and phone number on the inside of a rip proof wristband or with permanent marker on tape inside your child's shoe. Make sure they know to show it to an approved grownup if they do end up lost.
Don’t Panic 6 of 6Last, if your child does go missing, don't panic. 300,000 children go missing every year at large events for up to an hour and are returned safely. (And chances are they'll never wander off again.)