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How To Keep Your Kids Safe in Public Places


Your home is your domain. You can control who comes in and out, what's left out on the counter in your child's reach or whether doors are locked. Out in public, the scene is totally different. Unlike your house's safe haven, restaurants, carnivals, vacation spots and grocery stores are filled with unfamiliar faces and tiny spaces your little one can easily slip through and out of your sight. It's important, then, to have a strategy for keeping your kids safe when out and about. Here are some tips to keep in mind for doing just that:

Evaluate: Should I take my child here?

Leaving your little one at home isn't always an option. If you're running to the grocery store right before dinner or your sitter cancels just before you head out the door to the mall, your have no choice but to stay home or take your son or daughter along.

However, when there is someone on hand to watch your child, giving you a choice of whether or not to bring them along, consider if the environment is generally safe for adolescents. For example, while a trip to a Saturday afternoon craft show might not be the most entertaining option for kids, the clear aisles and walkways of these events make them relatively easy to navigate even with a squirmy son or daughter.

A concert in the city, on the other hand, where you have to literally push through masses of people to take a few steps is less than ideal. Consider how easy would it be for your child to get lost. Even the most hawk-eyed of moms can lose track of a small person in a big crowd.

Brother and sister holding hands.Teach your kids to stick together when lost.

Teach: Educate your child on safety tactics

Understanding the concept of "stranger danger" can help keep your child safe. The National Crime Prevention council advised parents to help their kids identify strangers by explaining these individuals are anyone who the family is unfamiliar with. Stress that there is no way to tell if someone is good or bad by just looking at them - so it's best to be cautious around everyone. It's important to be realistic, but avoid using scare tactics - you don't want your kids to be afraid of everyone they encounter! Along those same lines, point out who is safe. If your child gets lost in a public place or otherwise needs help, they should approach a policeman, firefighter or teacher.

Additionally, teach your children to be confident by giving praise and positive encouragement. According to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, adults looking to do harm may target adolescents who are timid or alone. While it's understandable for anyone to become fearful when lost, encourage your kids to remain calm, stand tall and keep their chins up.

Of course, always teach your children to stay with you and not wander off. If your kids do not practice this facet of safety in everyday scenarios, such as when at the grocery store, then they may not be ready to head to larger crowds like concerts or amusement parks.

"Encourage your kids to remain calm."

Prepare: Create a plan in case your child gets lost

Nothing is totally preventable, and when the theme park you're at suddenly gets crowded or a group of people cut between your and your children, it's possible for your little ones to get lost. The Today Show highlighted tips from the Clovis, California, Police Department that can potentially save lives. First, take a picture of your children before you head out the door to a crowded venue. This way, you have a current photograph if you need to share their picture, and you also can easily recall what clothes they were wearing.

Additionally, write your number on your kids' wrists. Doing this with pen then painting over the message with a liquid bandage will keep the ink in place all day long. Also tell your little ones to show this number to a police officer if they can't find you. By age 4, children should be able to memorize phone numbers, but it's easy to become confused in a moment of panic.

With a bit of preparation and education, you can keep your little ones safe in crowded places.

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