Today, I’ve brought some traveling tips to you from Dr. Valerie Allen (my favorite School Psychologist). Since it’s June and there will likely be a family vacation at some point this summer, read her tips to help your family stay safe.
Six Tips for Safe Trips
Children enjoy the adventures of travel and the fun of family outings. They broaden their world by visiting other places and learning about things outside of their family, school, and neighborhood. However, a constant concern is the safety and well-being of children especially when they are in unfamiliar surroundings.
In the world of high tech gadgets, cell phones are the most popular way to keep in touch during outings. School age children have the advantage of a cell phone, if it is not lost, misplaced, or left behind in their backpack or suitcase, which often happens when traveling. There are electronic locators, which can be worn or pinned onto a child’s clothing; these are especially useful with preschool children.
However, less costly are good common sense strategies to use to be on the safe side when away from home with children. Whether you are traveling many miles, shopping at a mall, or going to a theme park, you should prepare a safety plan with and for your youngsters. Here are some basic tips to keep up with the kids while away from home.
- Dress alike. Splurge and buy matching T-shirts for everyone. A bright color that will stand out in a crowd is a good choice, such as “shocking pink” or “neon green.” It will be easy to spot and if you are separated, you have on an exact copy of what the child was wearing.
- Get orientated. As soon as you arrive, take a few minutes to determine where you are and what’s around you. Set a mental marker on where you entered, where the car is parked, what is to the right and the left, where the exits are, phones, and bathrooms. Point these out to the children so they can get a fix on where they are before they get too excited or head off in a new direction.
- Set a meeting place. If you decide to separate, establish a time and place to meet or call each other with your locations. Be sure to single out a specific place that children can find easily or be directed to if they need help, such as the roller coaster, the hot dog stand, or the shoe department. Set an exact time to meet and remind them to stay there until you arrive.
- Make a lost and found plan. Discuss with children what to do if they get lost or separated. Point out police officers, security guards, sales clerks, or other authority figures. Designate a safe place to go and stress they are to stay there. Set check-in times on the hour and the half hour at the designated “safe place.” Establish someone to call, such as a grandparent or neighbor, who can relay messages until you can find each other.
- Have identification. Everyone should carry identification with his or her name, address, phone number, parent’s name, and medical information. It is also good to give the name of a contact person who can be called to provide additional family information as needed. Establish a secret code word. They are not to go with anyone without saying and hearing the code word.
- Establish contacts. Tell others where you plan to be, when you will leave, and when you expect to return. Trade contact information and be sure everyone has a plan of action in case of an emergency. Write down your itinerary and leave one copy at your home in a conspicuous place. Give a copy to relatives, friends, and/or neighbors.
A few minutes spent on establishing a safety plan before you leave home will give everyone peace of mind and lead to a worry free, safe, and enjoyable family outing.
Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She presents seminars for parents and professionals in the field of child development and has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!
Dr. Valerie Allen
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Rehabilitation Counselor
101 E. New Haven Ave Phone (321) 722-3430
Melbourne, FL 32901 FAX (321) 722-3431
(Copyright Valerie Allen)