All parents worry about their children’s safety while on vacation. With a little bit of planning and preparedness, you can ensure a safe and injury-free holiday for your kids. Here’s how
By Poongkodi Jose
Passports, tickets, identification documents, travel guide and the right kind of clothes based on the weather – these are all on the checklist of parents when planning the perfect family vacation. But, what about the safety of your family members? While travelling abroad or within the country, and if you have either little kids or school-going children, it is essential to take necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Children love exploring, they are always curious to find out about new places, and they get excited in a novel environment. So it’s likely that they may get carried away in a new and unknown destination, and wander away from the family or be involved in a mishap. As parents, it is necessary to understand this and prepare for such unforeseen situations.
There are numerous cases of children getting lost on holiday especially in a foreign location or a crowded place. Studies in the United States have shown that children are more likely to be kidnapped by strangers during spring vacation and Christmas.
It is a good idea to do some research about the destination to which you are heading. Learn about the culture and history of the people there and a few words in the native language. For example, how they greet people, what type of outfits are appropriate to wear, are there any words or actions that are considered inappropriate and so on. This way you can avoid showing any disrespect or breaking any laws unknowingly.
Here are some effective travel tips to keep your child safe on holiday:
Dress your child in brightly coloured clothes and be sure to remember what she is wearing. This will help you locate her even from a distance or among a crowd.
If your kid is a toddler or preschooler, tell him that he should always hold your hand and never let go. If he wants to go to the restroom or a shop, make sure one of the parents accompanies the child. For an older kid, make it a rule to never wander off without informing you and to always be within your eyesight.
Make a list of all emergency numbers including the parents’ number, contact details of any trusted acquaintance living in that area or the hotel contact numbers, and give this to your child. For a younger kid, parents can put a wristband with their contact number behind it and tell her how to use it.
Whenever you visit a crowded place like a theme park or a railway station, choose a spot, for example, a shop or a statue to meet up in case the child wanders off and is not able to see you. Give clear instructions to reach the chosen spot and wait there for you, and not to go looking for other family members elsewhere.
Tell your kid that if she is lost, it would be a good idea to find someone and seek the person’s help. Your little one can ask the stranger for help in locating you. But, it is very important to choose a safe stranger from whom she can get help. For example, she can reach out to other mothers with kids or a police officer in uniform.
If your child is very little, tell him that if someone is forcefully trying to take him somewhere, he must shout out and alert passersby. For example, instead of just crying out “mummy, mummy” he must shout out “this is not my parent, please help.” Teach an older kid to be sceptical about anyone promising to take him to mom or dad. Tell your child that you would never leave them alone, so they must not trust anyone saying this. As a response, they can say, my father is standing right there and watching me. Teach your children never to take any eatable or drink offered by a stranger without your consent.
Planning to leave your little one in the kid’s zone of your hotel? Or theme park? Double-check on the safety. Never leave your kid in the play area, game zone or the pool area alone. Make sure that some adult family member is always watching them.
There are child-safety gadgets to keep your little ones locked onto you. There are also GPS accessed wristbands to check if your teenager is in close range.
Instead of just making rules and asking to follow them strictly, it is better to make your kids aware of the seriousness of being lost in an unknown place. Teach the smaller kids that not all strangers who look and talk well are nice people. Make sure your little ones also know their personal information like their full name and parent’s name. You can also make them memorise the hotel name where you are staying.
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