Keeping Kids Safe in a Crowd
It's every parent's worst nightmare. One second your child is by your side, then a momentary distraction, and your child is gone.
Our family experienced this in the Legoland Kansas City attraction shortly after it opened. Our group consisted of our 3-year-old quadruplets, three adults and a teenage helper. One of our daughters still managed to wander off and absolutely terrify us for a few brief seconds before we could locate her again. Since then, we have been even more hyper-vigilant to make sure that our kids are safe in a crowd. Here are a few ideas to help you keep track of your most precious possessions:
- Dress them alike. Many parents coordinate or match their kids’ clothing when going out in public, making them easy to pick out of a crowd and giving a point of reference if someone tries to wander off. Hannah Mendoza, North Kansas City, says, “I have five kids and when going somewhere crowded, I make them all wear the same bright color. Also, I am constantly counting them like a preschool teacher!”
- Attach your contact info to their clothes. For younger children who are unable to remember your contact info, make sure you pin a slip of paper to their clothes, tuck your phone number in their pocket or get a shoe tag to tie to their shoelaces. Make sure they know it's there and that they know how to identify a "safe stranger" who can help them if they get lost. For older kids, ensure they can identify themselves and know their parents' names, address and cell phone numbers. In our age of technology, we tend to just store everything in our phones; however, making sure your kids have this info stored in their brains (or in their pockets) is far more beneficial.
- Grab a leash. The idea of using leash backpacks with kids can garner some strong opinions from parents, but at the end of the day, sometimes just knowing your kids can’t get away from you is the easiest way to keep them safe. Amanda Murphy, Chilhowee, says, “I wasn’t sure about the child ‘leashes.’ Now that I have mobile twins, I have used the backpack harnesses a few times and I have to say, they are a lifesaver!”
- Pick a landmark. When your family gets to an event, choosing a meeting place in case you get separated is a good idea. Pick something like a tall tree, a cross street or the produce department as your meet-up spot. Or do what South Kansas City mom Laura Hall does: “Oftentimes if we are at an outside event, we’ll tie a balloon to the stroller so if they do get separated, they know to look for the balloon.”
- Take a photo. In a worst case scenario, you might need to describe what your child was wearing to those who are helping. Much better than a description is an actual photo. Before you head to the zoo, one of Kansas City's festivals or any other crowded event, line your kids up for a quick snapshot. That photo of what they look like today will be the most helpful thing you can provide if you need assistance finding them.
Rebecca Ishum lives in Belton with her husband and 6-year-old quadruplets. They often use the divide and conquer technique while repeatedly counting to four when they take their kids out in public. Follow their adventures at ABeautifulRuckus.com.