Summer vacation….YAY! If you're planning a trip with the family this summer, Revved up Kids suggests these tips to ensure it's enjoyable and SAFE:
- Take a daily photo of the kids. This serves two purposes. One, you'll have great photo memories and two, if your child gets separated from you, you'll have a current pic to share with searchers. Panic stricken parents are not always able to remember what their lost child was wearing!
- Save the social posts for after you get back! Police are adamant that social media is used widely by thieves who target homes when people are on vacation.
- Share your travel details with TWO trusted people. This includes itinerary, travel routes, phone numbers, information about who may be entering your home in your absence, etc. Two people provides extra layer of protection in case one person drops the ball.
- Keep a close eye on the kiddos! While stranger kidnappings are rare, criminals know that vacation spots are easy places to access victims. Do not allow your children to roam freely through a hotel or resort area. Only use children's programs or babysitting services that you've thoroughly checked through a third-party review service. Don't leave young children alone in your hotel room. Do not allow your child to use the restroom unchaperoned. For older children who can be given additional freedom, stay in regular contact via text (set up check in times) and track their devices. If your child doesn't have a phone, you can use walkie talkies to stay in touch.
- Choose busy places to take road trip breaks. Highway rest stops can be danger zones at night. On your road trips, choose a truck stop, convenience store or retail store if you need to take a break.
- Make an airport separation plan. Getting separated in the airport will be traumatic for you and your children. Be vigilant about keeping them close, but make a plan in case you do get separated. We suggest telling them to stay in place (if seating is available nearby, they can wait in a seat, or they could sit against a wall); this will allow you to retrace your steps until you locate them. If the child is old enough to seek help, suggest that they go into a retail outlet (restaurant, store, etc.) and explain to the clerk that they are lost. The clerk should be able to contact security to aid your child. Make sure your child knows that no one should ever take them away from the main part of the airport (into a basement area, closed office, etc.) and if someone tries to do that, they should scream to draw attention to themselves, sit down on the floor so they can't be easily moved, and demand that they will not go anywhere until you are located.
- What if you don't come home on time? For numerous reasons (injury/illness/accident/crime), there are times when people don't return from vacations as planned. If you were to go on vacation and not return on time (or at all), who should know about it, and what do you want them to do about it? Make sure at least one person has you on their radar, and that person should also have contact information for people who would need to be notified (work, volunteer positions, family, etc.). If you're driving, you should check in with that person along the way, keep them informed about your route and your stopping points, etc. If you're flying, that person should have your flight numbers and you should check in with them when you land. It's easy to stay in touch via phone and text, but someone needs to be the point person if you can't be reached (remember…mobile devices are great except when you can't get a cell or a wifi connection!).
Revved Up Kids provides safety training programs for children and teens to help them stay safer from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. We also train parents and youth-serving organizations to be better protectors. Learn more about our prevention training at https://revvedupkids.org/programs or call us at 678.526.3335.