#parent | #kids | #childsafety | How To Retrieve A Lost Child In Public Places

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No parent wants to ever experience the terror of losing their child in public, but unfortunately it happens quite frequently — if even just for a moment. However, we can all make sure that we’re fully prepared before danger strikes by learning exactly what to do with our children in public places and what action to take if our child gets lost.

Safety Tips When In Large Public Places

The best prevention measures are always ones that you put in place before danger hits. So before you take your child out in public, it’s best to work out a few safety tips.

For example, it helps everyone if you establish a buddy system within your group or, if it’s just you and one child, instruct them to stay within arm’s length of you (or even find ways to keep them attached to you). If you and another parent are taking a group of children out, it may help to establish who is watching which children that way you both have smaller numbers to keep up with.

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Also, teach children to stay close and practice this before you set out in public. Remind them that even if they see something they really want to check out, it’s better to stay close and ask you if the group can go look than to wander off on their own.

Finally, establish set verbal commands and directions, such as “red light, green light,” or “tap and ask before walking off.” These cues help children out and prevent you from getting separated to begin with.

Father Son Shopping Kid In Cart
Photo by Sunbae Legacy from Pexels

What To Do If Your Child Gets Lost

Although it’s hard to not instantly freak out when you lose your child, panicking doesn’t help. Instead, start by doing a brief parameter search and check any areas within your eyesight that may have distracted your child. You can call your child’s name as you search, but keep the search brief and remain close to the space you were in when you first noticed they were missing. In most cases, children don’t stray far and many parents relocate them within those first few minutes.

If that doesn’t work, Parents Magazine suggests that you obtain help quickly. Reach for the nearest employee or security guard, or use your phone to immediately contact the park’s main office. Since most large public locations have action plans for missing children, the staff will be able to take your information and instantly put their plan into action to relocate your child. In many locations, this means using Code Adam, which alerts the staff to not let any children exit without checking the situation first.

RELATED: 5 Tips For Keeping Kids Safe At Theme Parks

After five to ten minutes pass, it’s best to call the local police. Even if you acted quickly and realized they were missing within seconds, the police can help expand the search and consider all possibilities. In fact, the longer you wait to move on this, the harder it can be for police — time is of the essence.

Thankfully, 99.8 percent of children who go missing do come home, so statistics are on your side. So, don’t panic and use emergency systems to your advantage.

How To Avoid Losing Your Child In The Future

If you’ve lost your child before, you know just how terrifying those moments are until you’re both reunited. While no plan is foolproof, the Child Development Institute says there are several things that parents can do to avoid losing their child in public places.

First and foremost, you should make a plan with your child so that you both know what to do if you get separated. Establish a set meeting place and discuss who your child should interact with for help if needed, like a store clerk. By having an established plan for separation, you and your child will both feel less anxious.

Child Riding Alone Before Lost
Photo by Momentos Reales from Pexels

Also, train your child to follow simple safety protocols. Train them on the dangers of going anywhere with strangers, and make sure they know to never hide in public places — even if they think it would be fun. Practice walking through crowded spaces so they know how to navigate without losing you, and make sure they know how far apart is too far.

Along those same lines, you should teach your child specific information that would be helpful if they get lost. Make sure they know your name, phone number, and any other helpful information, like where you are staying if you’re on vacation (i.e. the hotel name). You can also take recent pictures of your child or, if they have a device, get them to take recent pictures of you. These can help if someone needs to help the two of you reunite.

Finally, you and your child can both wear bright colors so it’s easier to spot each other. This can really help you both stand out, plus it provides easy identifiers in the event you get separated.

Although none of us want to ever lose our child, the reality is that it does happen. But if you prepare yourself with information and safety tips, chances are you can avoid some panic and relocate your child quickly.

Sources: Parents Magazine, Child Development Institute

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