During celebrations such as the Canada Day festivities it can take seconds for a child to wander away and be out of a parent’s view. Always encourage your child to stay close to you in public areas. Consider the following safety tips and discuss safety plans with your children:
- Teach children, as soon as they are able, to recite their name, address and telephone number, and their parent’s/caregiver’s names;
- Sew/write their names and your number inside their clothing, such as a shirt tag or shoe tongue;
- Dress your child in bold colors and outfits you would recognize right away and from a distance;
- Take a “family selfie” before you head out. In a moment of panic, parents often forget the details of childrens’ clothing descriptions;
- For older children, plan a meeting place – the more specific the location, the better – if you are separated.
If you are separated from your child:
- Don’t panic – go and tell the closest member of event staff, security staff or police desk right away. The more people who are involved in looking for your child, the better;
- Listen carefully to any public address announcements.
Teach your children that if they are lost:
- To STOP – stand still and look around. A good rule of thumb is, “Don’t cross streets; don’t leave a building or (if they are outside) don’t enter a building”.
- If they see you they should head straight back to you.
- Look for a police officer, event staff, or another parent in view and ask for help.
- Older children may carry a mobile phone with them – they should call you immediately and stay put.
If you see a child who appears to be lost:
- Look around to see if there is an adult who appears to be looking for someone. Often, lost children are near to their parents or caregivers but just can’t see them; and
- Keep the child in sight and find a police officer or event staff member.
Public gatherings and celebrations are meant to be fun family events. Preparing, discussing and following a safety plan can prevent panic. Knowing what to do – staying calm and seeking help quickly – is well worth it.