Readers and Skype consult clients are forever asking me how to make sure kids are safe on the road. 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. The only time I’ve been a little anxious was that time we took them to a Full Moon Party on Ko Phangan, I was expecting dense crowds, in the end it was easy. I’ve lost one child, once, at home in Australia in a carnivale crowd. He vanished for a second, 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 band or ID tag, it would have been over more quickly. But generally, I find our rule has been enough.
Keeping Kids & Toddlers Safe #1 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 ( I did) 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 below.
Other Toddler Travel Safety Tips
- Check over your accommodation for potential hazards, water, drops, climbable barriers, dodgy electrics, glass table tops, toxic plants, 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 srapped 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 arrises. 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 I guess a small child would struggle to remove strong velcro.
The travel safety tattoos are a whole new level of anxious parent marketing!Child Id wristbands pack of 10 ROCKET Vital ID Child Safety Wristband (Pink)
Who needs wrist bands! Just directly label your child.Quick Stick Write-on! Child ID Tattoos (Variety 6pk.)
This product is re-usable, made from allergy free materials and needs 2 hands to undo so your child can’t possibly take it off. Also I like that the identity information is on the inside. As with luggage tags, you don’t want people to see your name, address and phone number. Only available in the US
Child SMART ID Wristband. Smart Phone Compatible Identity Bracelet. UNLIMITED Emergency Info, Allergy, Medical, Contact, Parent, Lost, Holiday, Beach, School Trip, Secure (Blue)
You can even get wristbands to track your lost child!Child SMART ID Wristband. Smart Phone Compatible Identity Bracelet. UNLIMITED Emergency Info, Allergy, Medical, Contact, Parent, Lost, Holiday, Beach, School Trip, Secure (Blue)
Child Travel Safety, Restraint Devices
If you have a child that 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, it wasn’t a great success, but maybe you’d like to try. These new wrist straps weren’t around back then.
Kinderkord Parent and Child Safety Restraint Set
Child Baby Travel Cares Safety Restraint – Orange Anti Lost Velcro Leash Wrist Link
So, as usual, no hard sell. I don’t think these products are really necessary, but 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 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.
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 ( not quite 100% complete, but well on the way). On mobiles they’re still not perfect, but I’m working on it.Enjoy your weekend!