Proactive ways to prevent losing your child abroad
Like many parents, we’ve experienced that heart stopping split second when you lose sight of your child, whether its on a crowded beach or at a play area, it’s terrifying.
Recently our son was approached by a stranger, not whilst travelling, but while waiting outside of our local convenience store with our dog, for no more than a couple of minutes. The stranger told my son that our dog looked hot and appeared in need of a drink, he suggested that he go with him, as he knew where a tap was.
I was in the shop, however my husband was just a few steps up the road – with eyes on my son at all times, so watched the scenario unfold. My son is well versed in stranger danger, although as a child its easy to forget the rules you have been taught. I’m incredibly proud that by the time my husband ran up, with the stranger dashing away on his bicycle – my son was already calling out that this was a ‘child-catcher’. Thankfully he had no intention on leaving to go with him but it doesn’t stop you, as a parent, feeling shaken by the experience – even though your seven year old is buzzing from the perceived ‘excitement’ of his near miss.
The experience made me consider, more deeply, how to keep your children safe from kidnap or loss when travelling abroad, so whilst I am not an expert – here are my top tips for preventing losing a child when on holiday;
Teach your children about ‘stranger danger’
Sure, it’s not a new concept but the most important factor in keeping your child safe is to keep them under you watch. Keep your child by your side, and ensure they understand the importance of the rules you have put in place. Teach your children that they should never get in the vehicle of a stranger or wander away, no matter what the temptation. If you are in an areas where they are allowed freedom, such as a playground, be very clear on boundaries. Limit their play area to very clear zones, and move around the park as they do.
Arrange a meeting point incase your child gets lost
During your holiday, remind children what to do if you get separated. If you are staying in one location, arrange a meeting point that can be seen from any spot. If you are moving through a city or busy area, tell your child to stay still and assure then you will find them and remind them not to wander or go with anyone they do not know.
Don’t make assumptions about who is watching your children
If you haven’t communicated otherwise, you are watching your child. We have a one adult per child ratio, and we communicate out-loud which parent has eyes on which child, this is particularly important in busy public, and unfamiliar locations.
Dress to get noticed. The brighter the better.
Dress your children in bright colours when visiting busy locations, to enable you to spot them in the crowd. This also helps in busy play areas and the beach.
Be snap happy. Take you child’s picture so they can be easily tracked
Take a picture of your children each morning during your trip. If the worst happens you will have an up-to-date reference to show others, to help them track down your child quickly.
Label them! Use ID wristbands to prevent losing your children
Many tourist attractions now insist on children wearing wristbands that you can add your mobile number too (don’t forget to add your countries code). Re-usable ID wristbands are also readily available for you to purchase prior to your holiday should you prefer…failing that you could always write your number on their arm with a permanent marker!