As you know, Bailey has wandered away from us on multiple occasions, mostly at the mall. When this list came across my email today, I almost had to laugh. These are great suggestions, but I'm not sure anything short of physically strapping Bailey to my body will keep him from wandering again.
1) Phone home - First and foremost, kids need to know your cell phone number. For young children, there are some great online companies that make adorable, personalized tattoos with your phone number.
2) Fluorescent kids - Dress kids in bright colors so they can be easily spotted in a crowd. Take a picture of them with your cell phone just before you leave the house!
3) Find safe help - If lost, children should ask a "mom with kids" for help. They can also FREEZE AND YELL, by staying in one place and shouting for mom or dad. In a store, kids can go to the CASH REGISTER PERSON, to ask for help.
4) Take giant steps - Use the 2 Giant Steps Rule: Kids can never be more than two giants steps away from you.
5) Stay inside - Remind your child to NEVER go out to the parking lot looking for you if you get separated. Tell them you'd never leave the store or park to wait in the car.
6) Set up a meeting place - With older children, decide upon on a "meet-up location" ahead of time. For example: "If we get separated, we'll meet at... the merry-go-round, lifeguard station #25, right underneath the big 'Target' sign near the entrance."
7) Out of sight--out of your mind - Talk to your kids before the outing. The rule is that you must always be able to SEE them and they must always be able to SEE YOU... simply put, remind them NO WANDERING without mom/dad/caregiver. Sounds simple, but keep reminding them periodically, especially if you think they're getting restless.
8) Learn to count - On family outings, have the kids take turns doing a "kid-count" after each ride, activity, or periodically during a hike or walk. This keeps everyone on their toes throughout the day.
9) Restrooms are not for resting - Always bring young children into the restroom with you. Avoid facilities that are down dark or long hallways. Look for well-lit restrooms in high traffic areas. Older children should use the buddy system; they should not enter a restroom alone.
10) Communicate, communicate, communicate - Teach children the "CHECK FIRST" rule. Kids must always check first with you or the grown-up in charge, before going anywhere in a public place, including another store, play area, the food court, restroom, hiking trail, etc.