Summertime means fairs, music festivals, sporting events and other beloved public activities for the family. After a couple years’ hiatus from these types of outings, it’s the perfect time to brush up on crowd safety to best keep track of your kids.
As COVID-19 cases continue to decline over time and people grow comfortable with in-person public events and activities, it’s a good time to brush up on crowd safety tips — particularly the best ways to keep track of your kids at fairs, music festivals, sporting events, amusement parks, even a busy beach or lake.
[Related Reading: Keeping Family Vacations Free from Fights]
“While everyone worries about an incident like the Boston Marathon bombing or a crossfire in a gunfight, a more likely occurrence is your group getting split up, particularly young kids getting separated from parents,” said Harding Bush, a security expert and operations manager at Global Rescue.
Children often wander, and losing a little one in the melee can happen in a split second. Here’s how to ensure you — and your child — know what to do if it does happen.
1. Talk to Your Kids and Create an Action Plan
“Talk to them about the importance of not getting lost in crowds,” Bush said, as it’s important they try to grasp the severity of the situation.
Then talk to them about what to do should you ever get separated. “Always establish a ‘rally point,’ a place where everyone in your family would know to meet in case of an emergency,” Bush said. “It could be a specific exit, the car or a specific address or intersection. It’s a good idea to walk past it on the way in, stop and explain to everyone — especially children.”
2. One Adult’s Eyes Always on the Kids
If there are two parents or adults in the group, task one with always keeping their eyes glued to the kids, while the other goes off to tackle the necessities, like standing in the ticket line, grabbing food at the concession stand or a souvenir at the gift shop.
If it’s just one of you, require them to hold your hand and, if you have multiple kids, to hold hands with each other. If it’s just one of you, require them to hold your hand and, if you have multiple kids, to hold hands with each other. Or purchase an AirTag or Tile: While designed to track items (like your phone or car keys), they can be used to keep an extra eye on children since they’re tiny and lightweight enough to fit easily into their coat pockets or backpacks. “By doing this, if your child wanders off, you may be able to locate them quickly using the Find My app installed on your iPhone,” suggested this Forbes article.
3. Arm Them with Info — Literally on Them
“Ensure the kids know your phone numbers, full names, and who and how to ask for help,” Bush said. “Even better, have it written down and in their pocket for younger kids who might not be able to rely on their memory.”
Teach them about “safe strangers,” meaning permission to approach a stranger in uniform (such as a police officer, security, crossing guard, staff member) with this information. Another universally good choice is a mother with young children — bee-lining to another stroller is easy for even the youngest children to understand.
4. Know Exactly What Your Kids Were Wearing, Especially Their Shoes
Take a full-length picture of your kids that day, so you will be able to accurately describe what they were wearing to law enforcement or security. Be sure to include their feet — and their footwear — in the photo.
“Description of footwear is critical,” Bush noted. “A kidnapper may throw a new sweatshirt over a kid but won’t think about changing their shoes — it’s too time consuming. When kids go missing at some venues, such as Disney World, security will stop every kid leaving with the same shoes as the person missing.”
5. Don’t Panic, Do What You Practiced
It’s easy to become paralyzed with panic if you do lose track of a child. “Remain calm, remember you have thought about this before, and make decisions based on your preparations,” Bush said.
Similarly, teach your children not to panic when they can’t find you — because, most likely, you’re both still in the same vicinity.
A Travel Safety Net for Families
Get an Estimate
5 Tips to Keep Kids Safe in Summer Crowds
Japan has been slow to open to tourism. ...
With the current travel landscape in mind, we asked Global Rescue experts and Safe ...
The world is more complicated than ever. ...