By: Tamara Bailey
In our modern life, visits to airports, stadium events, parades, and other large attractions are inevitable. Often noisy and bustling with activity, these are the types of places where I want to keep an iron-grip on my children. While my preschooler is often good about hand-holding when we are out, like any child his age, his intrepid curiosity, growing self-dependence, and squirminess can work against my most mindful of intentions.
How do you prepare to take your young child into crowds? When it comes to our child’s safety, we’ve been teaching our son his full name, the city he lives in, and his street address. However, I’m not sure that a stranger who asked him his name would even understand my son’s 2 1/2 year old pronunciation.
I recently surveyed various parents for recommendations on safety preparedness and this is the feedback:
Make it easy for you to be contacted if someone finds your child. Make sure your child is directly tagged with your emergency contact information, not just their clothing, which could be removed or lost. Avoid using your child’s name by writing your phone number on them. Another approach is to use an anonymous email address that forwards to your personal email address or your phone as a text message. There are companies that exist that offer this service for a modest subscription fee.
To mark your child, there are a variety of temporary-tattoo products such as this one by SafetyTat, and cute identity bracelets you can purchase or DIY, but many parents use good old ballpoint pen. We tried this out on a recent outing to a parade and our contact info stayed on our son’s arm for a few hours. (Another long-wearing option is grease pencil, used by triathletes.) Been there done that tip: place a waterproof bandaid over your scrawl if you are going to be anywhere near water.
Have a strategy to keep your child close by you. Obviously, having your child in a stroller or carrier keeps them close at hand. However, your child, like mine, might be very insistent to walk. Some children might be content to hold a cart or your hand, or walk in chain formation, but if there’s any doubt, a harness provides extra peace-of-mind. Yes, you might give others great amusement to see your leashed child, but you’ll avoid great chase scenarios. There are many cute harness options on the market, including the requisite monkey version like this Skip Hop Zoo Backpack. On our recent trip, a tool harness from the hardware store did the trick.
Teach your child how you can be found. If your children are older, you can set a designated place to meet up if your family gets separated. However, a young child might find this location hard to remember. Teach them how to identify police or firemen and that they are your child’s friends if you are not around.
A picture with your smartphone, that is, on your way out the door to your outing. Have some visual ID on hand. Hopefully, this will just be a record of your fun day, but if you do get separated from your child, you have a recent photo to show others helping you search.
How do you prepare to take your young child into crowds?
Stay tuned for the next post for a review of digital tracking tools focused on child safety.
Tamara Bailey is mom to a sweet 2 year old and adorable 4 month old, and wife to an amazing husband. When not sorting Lego and diapers, she enjoys her role as Leader, Technical Communication at PMC-Sierra, a semiconductor innovator that designs products enabling storage, optical and mobile networks. You can connect with her on Twitter @tam_ba.