What to Do if you Lose a Child and How to Prevent It From Happening

by Jessica on March 23, 2011

1. Discuss crowd safety early and often. As soon as a child is old enough to walk around on their own, they are old enough to start learning about how to stay safe. Don’t assume that they are too little to start learning what to do if they are lost.

2. Have a family plan. The standard wisdom says that families should choose a place to meet if they are separated. While this might work for tweens and teens, we have found that this is not a great idea for kids 10 and under. Instead, we tell our kids that if they are separated from their family they should stop and stand still. If after several minutes they are not reunited with their family, they should find a police officer or event employee or mom with kids and tell them they are lost.

3. Teach your child important information. Make sure your little ones know their full name, their mom and dad’s names, their address, and even a phone number. Practice fun ways to remember this information and rehearse when you are traveling.

4. Dress your crew in matching clothes. When we travel I always dress the boys in matching shirts.  It amazes me how other people will help me herd my crowd because they can tell we all belong together.

5. Attach a sticker or bracelet with phone numbers to your child or put your numbers on a slip of paper in their pocket. Waterproof bracelets like the ones you get at a waterpark can be purchased an office supply store or you can use a sticky address label.

6. Take a picture of your kids before you attend a crowded event. I’ll be honest and tell you that I always thought this was useless advice because I was sure I would be able to remember what my children had on if needed. In the panic of the moment, though, I could barely remember my own name. We had to flip through our camera to give a description to the officers when our son was lost at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.

7. Don’t Panic. One more time, do not panic. Child abduction is the tsunami of parenting fears, but the reality is that the chance that your child will be abducted is about 1 in a million. When my son was missing at the Albuquerque Balloon festival, every few minutes I could feel that tsunami threatening to wash over me and take me to ground in sheer panic. Only by concentrating on not panicking and reminding myself that I could not help my son if I did panic was I able to stay calm and focused on the task ahead.

8. Stop for a moment and do not move. Often your child is not far from you at all and will see you and hear you calling and come right back to you. If you immediately start run through the crowd, you might miss your child standing just a few feet behind you.

9. Ask for help quickly. Officials, police officers, and event staff are trained and ready to help you find your missing child. Ask the people around you for help as well. This is not a time to be shy. The more people you can involve in your search the faster it will be resolved.

10. Cooperate with officials. Officers and event staff may want you to stay in one location while they look for your child. As hard as it is to sit and wait, trust that they know what they are doing.

 This post is a part of other great Top Ten Lists at Oh Amanda


oh amanda {impress your kids} April 26, 2011 at 7:12 am

Great post and info!

Thanks for linking up with Top Ten Tuesday!

Jen April 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Good tips! That must have been so scary for you! Glad it had a happy ending :)

LucidLotus April 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm

This is something that we should all have in our consciousness, so thank you! You are amazing for making yourself not panic to take care of your son. I hope that I would be able to do that too, but I'm not really sure. Glad he is ok.

walkingontravels April 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Great post! I am headed back to China with Dek tomorrow morning and I've had this tiny tsunami in the back of my mind about what if I loose him or he gets snatched. It's the forst time we are traveling without the daddy, so my stress level is a little higher than normal. I am super excited about the trip and I will have loads of support on the ground from my colleagues, but as moms, you know we are always worrying about something. Plus my parents like to bring up the white slave trade market whenever possible. Lovely.

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