11 important safety tips for parents and kids
When my son was two, we went to a company picnic at an amusement park. While we were in the company tent, he spotted a favorite cartoon character roaming the park and took off to see him. By the time my husband could dart around the tables and chairs and start chasing our son, he had to break into a full-speed run to catch our child and stop him from wandering away.
A few years later, this same kid got separated from us at an attraction while were were on vacation. One minute he was there, and the next minute he was gone! We spent several terrifying minutes tracking him down. Apparently he wasn’t paying close attention and followed another family away from us. We were all in a complete panic in those minutes until we found him, safe and sound.
After that scare, I decided it was time to implement better strategies to be prepared when we were in large crowds with our kids. The awful feeling of having lost our child for a few minutes haunted me and made me feel guilty for not preparing better. As I talked with my son about the incident later, I realized that he had no idea what to do in that situation because I had not prepped him in advance.
Don’t make the same mistakes I made! There are several things you can do to help prepare and safeguard your kids when you will be in a crowd.
Prepare your children for crowded places
1. Work with your child from a young age to teach contact information. Children should know their full name, parents’ full names, parents’ phone numbers, and their address.
When kids are too young to remember these details, it’s a good idea to have it written down for them when you will be in a crowd. You can find many creative ideas for this:
- Put names and numbers on a small paper in the child’s pocket or shoe. Laminate it or use clear packing tape over the words to make this homemade ID card last longer.
- Write contact information on the child’s belly or arm under clothes. Use a waterproof marker – or use a regular pen and cover it with a waterproof liquid bandage product.
- String a beaded bracelet with your phone number that your child can wear.
- Write your contact information on a disposable wristband.
You can also shop online for helpful products. These are generally very affordable (less than $20) and a great way to have peace of mind about child safety in crowds! Amazon affiliate links: inexpensive child safety wristband ID, shoe ID, or pack of child ID temporary tattoos.
2. Discuss in advance how far a child can be from you at your destination. Make sure the child understands your expectations. For example, a young child may need to always hold your hand, and an older child may be expected to always stay where you can both see each other.
3. Go over rules for any situation where your child may be apart from you in public, such as waiting by the door in a public restroom or meeting at the exit of a ride. Make sure your child knows where you will be if you will be separated. For example, tell him you will be on the bench under the tree at the playground.
4. Tell your children to stop and stay where they are if they get lost. It’s easier for you to find them if they don’t keep wandering. Also teach your child not to go anywhere with a stranger who says they want to help find parents. Adults who want to help will understand when children say they have been told to stay in place.
5. Teach your child to yell for you by first and last name instead of calling “Mommy” or “Daddy” if lost in a public place. This will make it easier for you to respond and find your child’s location.
6. Identify a safe person to ask for help. Help kids know in advance who are the best, safest people to approach if they need help. Other moms with kids are generally the best option for a child to ask for help when lost. Employees at the location can also help.
7. When traveling out of town, tell your kids your hotel name and location. You may even want to write it down for them or put a hotel business card from the room or lobby in a child’s pocket or shoe with other contact information.
8. Practice these strategies with your children. Have them write down and repeat phone numbers. Help them to know what to say to people if they’re lost, and practice who they should choose as a safe person in a crowd to ask for help. Remind kids to always be aware of their surroundings.
Prepare yourself when taking kids to crowded places
9. Have your cell phone charged so it’s available to make and receive calls. If your child has a mobile phone, make sure it’s charged as well.
10. Know what your child is wearing. Choose a bright color or even plan a matching color for the family to help spot each other.
11. Keep a current picture of each child handy. Make it easy: take a picture of your children on your cell phone before you go or when you arrive at your destination.
KidSmartz.org, a website from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has resources focused on keeping kids safe. These include parent tips and printable activities for kids.
My Child Safety board on Pinterest has a variety of helpful child safety ideas.
Please pin this post and share it with other parents to spread the word and help keep kids safe!
Do you have any other ideas or strategies you use for child safety in crowds? I’d love to hear from you!
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