I taught my six year old my mobile number. We practice it regularly. It isn’t just a cute party trick. I genuinely hope she could use it to find me if we were separated. But I still wonder if, when that moment comes… will she be able to safely go up to a trusted adult and get them to call me?
The idea of losing a child in a crowded place is horrifying. They’d be overwhelmed, terrified. I could just hope it never happens, or take this more active approach recommended by Nicola Baldwin, a Fegans‘ parent support worker. Below are her tips for preparing to take your child to a crowded place this summer.
Liquid Band Aid
Write your phone number on your child’s wrist and cover it with liquid band-aid in case you
are separated. The liquid band aid will prevent the ink from rubbing off on the child’s wrists.
Many parks and places offer paper bracelets at security on which parents can write a phone
Take a photo of your child using your mobile phone the morning of the event so you have
their clothing, hair style, and an up-to-date photo ready to go should you need it.
Memorise a mobile number
Teach any child over the age of four to memorize your mobile phone number. If they can
learn a song, they can learn a number – being able to tell a safety officer how to get in touch
with their grown up will teach children a valuable life skill and help them calm down.
Ask, “Who works here?” when you take your child to a busy place. Help them identify
employees or lifeguards and then make sure they can tell you how they know that person
works here (has a radio on their belt, is wearing a particular shirt, has a nametag) so that
they can figure it out without you.
Make a Plan
Assume you’ll get separated. Give your children lots of reminders about staying together,
but also talk about what you’ll do when you can’t find each other. This makes children less
scared when it happens and makes the whole group more prepared.
Give them the ticket stub
If you’re with your children somewhere that has assigned seats — a theatre, concert, or
baseball game, for example — give them their seat ticket to slip in their pockets. Most
security guards and ushers will bring children back to their seat if they know where it is or
have their ticket stub.
Have a signature look
Wear bright colours – siblings can also match clothes when you go to places that are
Choose a Base
Choose a home base, a bench or obvious landmark, at amusement parks or any crowded
place. If they get separated or lost, they always know that they can go back to that spot.
Make them Responsible
Ask them to be responsible and stay within distance to see/ touch you. Look them in the eye
and talk about where you are going and what they need to do to have fun and stay safe,
such as, ‘There are going to be a lot of people, and your responsibility is to be able to see me
and me to be able to see you. Otherwise, we will have to hold hands or even leave.’
Carry a small bag with emergency items in such as a first aid kit, any medication you may need (such as an EpiPen), some cash, a bottle of water, a fully charged phone etc. Ensure you have supplies so that you can be self-sufficient and look after your family.
Keep young children in a pushchair or on reins or a wear a wrist strap.
Enjoy your holidays and let us know if any of the above works for you.