Preparing children for emergencies

Most of us must have experienced the nightmarish experience of being separated from our parents and getting lost in public.. I have experienced both. It happened to me when I was about 5 and to this day I remember it very clearly even though I don’t any other memory until I was was. Thank God my mother found me later on.

That scare I had when I was 5, had no comparison of the scare I had when I lost my 2-year-old son out of my sight when I was 32.

Apparently, he decided to play hide and seek in a department store. When I called his name, he did not respond. I felt my heart collapsing as I kept looking for him. When I was just about to lose my mind, I saw his reflection on a  mirror behind a rack of clothes where he was hiding. He was quietly giggling, waiting for me to find him.

When someone scares you, you want to beat them up and yell at them how badly they scared you. I came so close but I was able to just warn him sternly. When I remember this incident, I still get goosebumps and my brain gets numb.

After this incident, I immediately bought this puppy harness backpack, which a lot of other parents criticize because it looks like leach, as well as a simple child tracking locator device with remote control. I tracker watches with GPS, which are quite expensive but I am planning on buying it. We also have to consider “getting lost” from their perspective. I hardly remember any of my childhood memories except for how scared I felt when I thought I lost her. I remember how hard I cried.

My son panics when he loses sight of me. He gets scared, he immediately starts crying instead of calmly looking for me. Sometimes I am right behind him and he does not even think of turning around. If he can’t find me in the spot where he left me, he just breaks down.

So I train both my kids on what to do if the lose me in case of emergency and we do drills. What I taught my children:

  • We taught them their names and last names, their parents’ names and last names (instead of mom and dad) when they were really little.
  • We taught them our cellphone numbers.
  • We explained them when to call 911 in case of emergency.
  • We warn them not to leave our side when we are in public and ask them not to separate from us in any way.
  • We make sure they understand that if we lose sight and get separated from each other somehow that we will always come back to find them and never abandon them.
  • We told them to call us “mom and dad” in Turkish since it would be easier to identify kids calling us in a different language than English. We also told them call out our names instead of generic “mom” or “dad”.
  • We told them if they can’t find us, they should go talk to the cashiers at stores, librarian at the library, security or police officer they can identify. We asked them not to talk to strangers or accept anything from strangers and not to wonder around.
  • We have a secret password, for anyone who approaches them to take them to their parents. If that person cannot tell the password, kids are instructed to run away.

It is not enough to tell them all these instructions just once. We repeat, practice and play different scenarios. Sometimes, when they are in the car or they are not doing anything else, I ask them:

  • For example, we are the store, you can’t see me, what will you do?
  • If you are in front of the house, a car approaches you and asks a question? What do you do?
  • If at school or somewhere else a stranger came to you or someone you know came to you and told you they will come to pick you up to take you home, what would you do?

We practice what to do in these situations. My children are good students and they respond very well and it is very important that they are ready for these situations.

Do you have any emergency plans? Do you have any other suggestions on how to prepare  children what do to during emergencies?

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