Readers and consult clients are forever asking me how to make sure kids are safe on the road. I don’t pretend to be a parenting expert but I am a travel with kids expert so I’d like to share with you some tips, devices and ideas for sensible child safety measures while travelling or during outings to crowded places.
There are all sorts of fears in the minds of anxious parents, what if kids get lost? How will they find us again in a foreign country? Could the kids be kidnapped or snatched? What if they get diarrhoea, malaria, sunstroke or ebola? I can’t offer all the answers, but I can tell you that my kids, at 12 and 10, are still with me and absolutely fine after almost 50 countries, often spending months in each.
We take no extra precautions, but we do stay very vigilant and hold on tightly to them in crowds and around busy traffic or water just as we would at home. Simply holding hands is often enough but not if you have a wriggling bolter – as I did. A lot depends on the type of child you have, one of mine was super easy, the other would vanish in a flash. It’s not your parenting, it’s their personality and physical need to move.
I Lost A Child in a Crowd
I’ve lost one child, once, at home in Australia in a Carnivale crowd. He vanished for a second and half an hour later we were reunited. It was a terrifying half an hour.
Why so long? Because a couple took him by the hand and tried to look for me, walking up and down. They broke our rule. OK, had he had some sort of toddler safety wrist strap, band or ID tag, it would have been over more quickly. Had he been attached to a child leash or child safety wrist strap it wouldn’t have happened. But generally, I find our rule has been enough. Our rule is further down the page.
Toddler Restraints and Child Leashes
Child travel safety restraint devices come in many types and we itemise a few below If you have the type of child who just has to walk in crowds, maybe you’d feel better attaching said child to you using a wrist strap or harness. Below are a few examples. I did try a toddler harness on my very active bolter. These new wrist straps and kid leashes weren’t around back then.
Anti Lost Wrist Link
Blisstime Anti Lost Wrist Link Safety Wrist Link for Toddlers, Babies & Kids
Toddler Leash and Harness
Toddler Leash and Harness with Padded Shoulder straps.
Anti Lost Kid Leash
the Anti Lost Wrist Link, Zooawa Child Outdoor Safety Hook and Loop Wristband Kid Leash
Anti Lost Wrist Link
The Anti Lost Wrist Link Toddles Safety Wrist Leash featuring Anti Lost Rope Walking Harness with Key Lock for Kids
Child Safety Wrist Strap – Child Travel Safety Restraint – 2 PackAnti Lost Velcro Leash with Reflectors Wrist Link
Monkey Backpack Style Child Safety Harness
Monkey 2 in 1 Child Safety Harness
Keeping Kids & Toddlers Safe – Have a Rule
Our rule is, if you get lost, stand still in the nearest safe place. Do not move an inch, mum or dad will find you. If you’re on a crowded road or train platform, move to the safest point, as far back from the train or cars as possible and stand still. If you’re in a shop, on a beach, anywhere, same rule. Stand in the nearest safe place.
Some parents insist on kids memorising addresses or mobile phone numbers. That’s pointless for us as I rarely carry a phone and we don’t have a fixed address, but it could work for you. I did, once, slip a piece of paper in their pocket with our contact number and hotel address, but mostly I’m confident they will be fine.
On the whole, younger kids and toddlers, unable to follow the rule, aren’t likely to be on the ground in a crowd. We parents would carry them or have them safe in a buggy. If you have a bolter you may even use a safety wrist strap, wrist band or harness.
I know a lot of people use products like those below for places like Disneyland, I believe Disney themselves will even sell you a wrist ID band. we’ve never needed one and my bolter started visiting Disney parks when he was 2 ( and still loves them at 12!)
If however, you still feel the need for extra safety measures, particularly for very small children or toddlers ( and accidents do happen, think of that poor woman and the toddler/gorilla incident), somebody, somewhere, has made the child safety product for you. Have a look at what’s on the market above.
Toddler & Kid Travel Safety Tips
- Check over your accommodation for potential hazards, water, drops, climbable barriers, dodgy electrics, glass table tops, toxic plants, and choke hazards. Just do a mommy assessment. If there is a problem stay elsewhere or get the hazard fixed or removed.
- Always carry a photo of your child, it’s a good idea to take one of him in that day’s outfit. Make it a bright one.
- Take your own car seat if this will be of benefit.
- Pay attention to airline and cruise ship safety briefings. Special rules apply for small children.
- Delegate with your partner, one child to watch each, that way one child won’t slip under the parental radar.
- Never take your eyes off them for a second, unless they’re strapped down!
- Always carry, at the very least, safe drinking water and children’s paracetamol. A small medical kit would be better.
- Have good insurance for medical emergencies.
- Disinfect every surface with gel or wipes, keep little fingers clean.
- Keep them out of the sun.
- Teach them to yell at the top of their voices if a problem arises. Teach them what to yell and what constitutes a problem.
- Make sure they know the plan.
Child Safety Wrist Bands With Phone Number
There are a number of these on the market, some better than others, but there seem to be draw-backs with each one.
If I was to buy such a wrist band for a small child I’d want it to be:
- Impossible for the child to remove
- Impossible for the number to come off with water or sweat
- Secret, the information shouldn’t be visible to passers-by.
The products below are the best I can find, but don’t tick all the boxes although a small child would struggle to remove strong velcro.
The travel safety tattoos are a possible emergency alternative.
Child ID Wristbands
This one is free from potential allergens, is reusable, has the vital information on the inside and needs a two-handed grip to remove, perfect!
Write-On Child Safety Tattoos
Who needs wrist bands! Just directly label your child. Click the image to inspect.
Dynotag smart tags are smart ID tags you can use on your kids. These are particularly useful for medical information and can also be used on pets or posessions.
So, as usual, no hard sell. These products may put your mind at rest. There aren’t bad people on every corner once you leave your home country, in fact, in most of our home countries are more dangerous than the foreign ones. The people we meet are good and kind and have children or grandchildren of their own. They watch out for other people’s kids and a noticeably foreign kid is easy to spot in a crowded market, many pairs of eyes will be on them and almost 100% of those eyes will look out for your kids or notice where they are.
I just wanted to say, relax, it’ll most likely be OK and pre-trip worries usually evaporate once you arrive in your destination and see what it’s really like. Thousands of people living safely and happily together, because whatever country you’re in, we’re all human. But if you’re very anxious about losing your child in a crowd, a child safety wrist strap could be just the thing.
So, guys, you may notice a few changes on the blog this week. A new look, new share buttons and a new way of navigating. The old drop down menus have gone and instead we have lovely new pages like this one on Places and Destinations and this one on Travelling with Kids . We all put our children’s safety first I’m sure and these child safety wrist straps and wristbands could put your mind at rest.