Summer is my favorite season of the year because you get to enjoy the great outdoors and plan family travel to exciting places. However, before all the fun can begin, and you head out to the beach, state fair, amusement park or any place where there will be a lot of people, it is key that you carefully plan for safety ahead to prevent your child from getting lost.
One of the scariest things a parent can go through is to have a child missing. It gets even worse if it happens at a crowded place because of how difficult is to cover ground, and in the midst of desperation is hard to think clearly and take effective action. Preparing by taking safety steps ahead of time with your kids will help you prevent unwanted situations.
Having a plan to prevent your child from getting lost is very important; however, teaching them what to do if they get lost is a crucial part of your plan. Of course, the first thing is to have an adult supervising the kids at all times, but accidents and confusion can happen at any given moment and that’s when having prepared for that will come in handy.
Even though having a plan is important for any family, parents of multicultural and/or multiethnic children have to be extra prepared for different scenarios. In our family, for example, my nephew doesn’t look like anyone on his mom’s side, which can often make people confused and even think they have not seen your child because they cannot connect the dots.
Create a safety plan for your family depending on your specific needs, based on the age of your children and their level of maturity. Go over the plan with them every time you go to the mall or a place close to home that way they’ll be ready when it comes to go to further and larger places.
These are the seven things we’ve done to teach our kids to be safe in crowded places:
Before you leave 1 of 7
Prepare identification for your child, no matter their age, and added on the inside of their clothes, hidden. Make sure to use a plastic envelope in case they get wet. This bag should have the cell phone numbers of all adults traveling with the child and a home number of someone who is not with the group as a backup. Add their name, DOB, blood type, allergies and medical conditions, height and weight. If you are staying at a hotel, add a business card of the hotel so they have all the info if they need to contact them. Photo credit: Dania Santana
Bright outfits 2 of 7
Not only you all should wear bright clothes, but rehearse with your children what are you wearing. Make sure your kids could spot you in a crowd and also tell someone else if they're asked. If you are on a road trip, play that game in the car, until you are sure they know what you are wearing. Photo credit: Dania Santana
Say cheese 3 of 7
One of the advantages of the digital era is that we can take countless pictures and have them handy in our smart phones. Take a picture of each child with the outfit they are wearing that day, take a group picture with all of you on that day in case you need it. Also, carry current printed pictures in case you have to give the authorities. Photo credit: Dania Santana
Meeting place 4 of 7
Before jumping on rides or heading straight to the water, tour the place you are visiting. Show your children important landmarks and set a meeting place. It could be an information booth, the lifeguard at the beach, and the lost and found at the mall. Make sure they can get there and tell them to wait for you, not to look for you all over the place. Photo credit: Dania Santana
Asking for help 5 of 7
This is a big one since we teach our kids not to talk to strangers. However, you should teach them which people are safe to ask for help. A mother walking with her children, a security officer, a lifeguard, and an employee are all ideal for your kids to reach out to. Specially teach them not to reach out to men that are walking alone, since statistics show the majority of predators are men. Photo credit: Dania Santana
Be strategic 6 of 7
Make sure all adults know their role and keep each one in check. Don't assume the other person is watching the kids always ask them. "Can you watch Lily while I go into the water?" or if you are not sure where is one of the kids, ask the other person. "Is Evan with Maria?" If each adult in the group is checking on the others, it minimizes the risk of one assuming the child is with the other person. Photo credit: Dania Santana
Don’t panic 7 of 7
If your child is lost, act immediately but don't panic. Try to stay focus on finding your child; send someone to the meeting place while the others alert the authorities and search. Trust that your child knows what to do and make the most of your efforts by staying focus. Photo credit: Dania Santana