Act when You Lose Sight of Your Child at an Amusement Park
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- Before you go, explain to your children what they should do if they get separated at any time from you or their supervisors. Tell them to find a uniformed park employee and explain to them that they have been parted from their group. Make it clear that it is NOT okay to ask or follow strangers for help, even if they do look friendly. Have them explain to the employee (or security officer) their name, your names and where they got lost.
- Write your mobile phone number on a sticker and fix it to their shirt. If you don't have a sticker write it on paper and put it in their pocket. Remind them they have it and tell them to give it to a member of staff if they get lost.
- Use your camera or cell phone and take a picture of your children when you arrive at the park. This way you will have a current picture with you.
- Make sure everyone in your group, including parents and older siblings, are wearing the same bright, recognizable clothing. Bold orange or yellow shirts will work fine for this purpose. Avoid wearing dark colors as these will make you and your children blend in easily with the crowd, and avoid putting your child's name on it. This will make it easy for strangers to call them out and take your child with them.
- Bring along a way to communicate with your kids. You can give older siblings a cellphone (just make sure they know your number). Younger kids can benefit from the use of a walkie-talkie to keep in touch with you should they get lost. Show them how to use it and explain that it is not a toy, but a way to reunite if you do get separated.
- Find a place to designate as your 'meeting spot' if someone from the group is separated, once you arrive at the amusement park. Crowded, commonly designated areas like the front gates of the park or at a bench next to a popular attraction are not good meeting spaces as they will be very crowded at all times of the day and relatively unsafe for a young child to be sitting at alone. Instead, choose a less popular area to meet up, like at the security booth or next to the restaurant where you plan to eat. This will make it easier to find a lost child.
- Remember to stay together at all times. You probably won't mind letting older kids go off on their own for a while (as long as they keep in touch via cellphone), but younger children should hold your hand and stay with you as you walk through the park. Keep a firm grip to prevent your child from slipping away. In especially large, crowded amusement parks (i.e. Walt Disney World), it might be better to safely fasten your child in a stroller or carrier instead of allowing them to walk, lessening the chances of being separated.
- Don't panic, in the event that your child does get lost or separated. This may sound like a cliché that is sometimes impossible to remember, but if you panic you are only worsening the situation.
- Stay collected and focused on what you need to do next. Also, keep in mind that your child may not really be lost. They may have simply slipped out of your grip and are following behind, or are stopping to look at something. If you have looked everywhere around you and absolutely cannot find them, continue to the next step.
- Find the nearest employee or security officer, and explain that your child is lost. They will radio the security office to inform them that there is a lost child in the park.
- Give the employee or officer a complete description of your child: what he or she looks like, what he or she is wearing, etc. This will make it easier for them to locate your child. Tell them if there is a specific area that your child might be likely to go to, such as a favorite ride or activity, or a pre-arranged meeting location. Take a picture of your child before going to the park (dressed in the same clothes, etc.) on your cellphone, if possible. You can show or share this with security personnel.
- Cooperate with the park security. Panicking or disagreeing with the security may land you in more frustration than you are in already. They are experienced professionals trained to deal with this type of situation. In fact, they see similar situations hundreds of times a year.
- Stay where you are, unless the park security instructs you otherwise. Your child may be nearby, just hidden in the crowd, and will most likely come back to you if they see where you are.
- Check the park's Lost & Found center, and see if you can find your child or young group member there. Many amusement parks have stations like these where employees who find lost children take them. There are usually some activities there to keep your child occupied until they can be reunited with you/their group. In most cases, your lost child or group member will be found by now if you have given the security a good description of them. If hours pass and your child is still not found, they will contact the local authorities.
- Remember, amusement park security is trained to deal with and resolve situations like these. A lost child is a relatively minor security problem in the scheme of things compared to more life-threatening issues, like a medical emergency, shooting or bomb scare.
- Keep a positive mindset.
- Make sure your family or group is better prepared to face these situations in the future, so you can prevent them altogether.
- If your cell phone is equipped with a camera, snap a picture of each of your children before entering the park. Have the photo include their shirt/blouse, pants/skirt, face, hair, and anything that would stick out like a temporary tattoo or something. If you can give the local security a picture to distribute, this can help them find your child more efficiently.
- Tell your child if he is lost and can't find someone in a "security uniform" right away, to ask an adult accompanied by children his own age for help. Kidnappers are rarely found accompanied by a group of happy-looking children!
- Have a digital camera handy and take photos of your children wearing the exact outfit they have on prior to entering any venue where large crowds gather. Also, this may sound a bit crude, but don't be opposed to using leashes for smaller children. At least they won't be able to wander off too far. One of those retractable kind is excellent.
- As mentioned before, make it clear that your child should not follow with or ask a stranger for help. Even though that elderly woman or man with sunglasses may look friendly, this is not always the case. But you should try to remain calm and focused. After all, the average amusement park visitor is NOT evil and incidents of kidnapping or molestation of children at parks are rare.
- Get security help as soon as you realize your child or group member has gone missing! Waiting around and looking for your child in the same place for the hundredth time will only make things worse. Get help right away and hopefully, you can go back to enjoying your day once your child is found and reunited!
Things You'll Need
- Knowledge of the amusement park and where its Lost & Found center is located (you can find that on a park map)
- Bright colored or easily recognizable clothing (without names printed on them).
- Cellphones and/or walkie-talkies.
- A picture of your child.