5 Easy Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe In Crowded Places
Back when I had only one child, I didn't have this constant fear that I would lose him in a crowded public setting- probably because I was a major hover-er. When my second was born two years later, a child known for his spontaneity and wandering ways, I still never lost sleep over the fact that I could lose one or both of them in a crowded public setting, mostly because while one was on foot, the other was always (ALWAYS) strapped into a stroller making it relatively easy to keep tabs on them.
Now that I'm a mom to three full-fledged, independence-seeking children and I have more children to worry about than hands to hold them with, I worry every single day that one of them will wander off, that someone will snatch one up, that one of them will fall behind and get lost in a crowd. It is a constant worry of mine and on the heels of one of our latest trips to a large amusement park, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite tips to help keep your kids safe when traveling in crowded public places.
1. Dress them alike or in bright, neon colors.
Similar outfits or outfits using bright, neon colors make them easy to spot when maneuvering through the masses. I always try to pick two neon colors and dress all three of the boys in those same colors, this way I know I'm always looking for, say, two pairs of neon yellow shorts and a neon yellow top.
2. Take a picture of them first thing in the morning
Once they are dressed for the day snap a cell phone photo of them so that you have a very current picture of them handy should you need one to show to authorities. It's something that the thought of doing may make you feel a little uneasy in the pit of your stomach but it makes so much sense.
3. Establish a family emergency plan.
It's always a great idea to discuss your own family's personal emergency plan during times like this and how your children are to respond should they find themselves separated from the family. Once you arrive at your destination, seek out a Family Finder Service or other main building where lost persons may be taken to. For example, right inside the main gates of Hersheypark there is a family finder service where kids are given a bracelet to wear with their guardian's cell phone number written inside. They are shown the kind of badge a park employee wears and are instructed to seek out someone wearing that badge if they become lost or scared.
4. Don't be afraid to use a "leash"
Or other type of harness on your young toddler.This is something that I never considered using until my third child, the runner, most recently started demanding that he would no longer ride in the stroller like a baby but rather walk like the big boys. It is impossible to keep my eyes on all three boys when they're taking off in all different directions and the minute we left Hersheypark that very first day, I hopped on Amazon and ordered this really cool looking backpack and safety harness with zero shame. I couldn't care less what others would think nor whether or not he would feel "humiliated." Not to mention that in some crowded public places, such as the National Aquarium, a place we frequent often, strollers are prohibited, leaving you even less options to corral your young, wandering offspring. I would much rather keep tabs on my two year old at all times than risk him bolting and disappearing into a massive crowd of strangers. It only takes a second for the unthinkable to happen and I'm glad to have just one more safety stop gap in my arsenal for the next adventure.
5. Memorize Important Phone Numbers
Lastly, if your child is old enough, have them practice reciting your phone number before you reach the crowded public place. This goes hand in hand with establishing a family emergency plan and instructing them to seek out a responsible authority figure, etc. It's a difficult conversation to have, especially in conjunction with "stranger danger," however, if your child isn't old enough to memorize your number, many parents prefer vital information bracelets or child safety tattoos. Be sure to place them in a nondescript (yet appropriate spot) so as not to make them a target for someone who may seek them out otherwise.
Keep in mind what works for one family may not always work best for another. While your child may be great at holding hands and following directions, my younger two are not, therefore I have to get creative when it comes to keeping them safe. Sitting at home until they're old enough to memorize phone numbers, hold my hand (or foot) or walk perfectly in line with the rest of us just isn't an option. We'd miss out on way too many amazing adventures!
If you have any other great ideas when it comes to keeping kids safe in crowded places, I'd love to hear them below or over on Instagram or the ILYMTC Facebook page. Thanks!