French Family Accidentally Forgets Toddler On Road Trip. Here Are 5 Tips For Keeping Track Of Your Kid While Traveling
Two parents in France made a shocking discovery while setting off on vacation on Sunday. They turned around to find that their three-year-old daughter was missing from the back seat of the car. The parents soon realized that they'd left the toddler along the A7 motorway, at a picnic spot where they'd stopped off some 90 miles back. But get this: According to the BBC, it wasn't the silence in the back seat that tipped them off — both parents only made the discovery after an alert came over the radio about a missing child, and they thought to turn around.
The parents, who were no doubt panic-stricken, immediately raced back to the Bras de Zil rest stop, just south of Valence, where this story luckily had a happy ending. Another family had apparently found the little girl, and were watching over her when her parents came back to scoop her up. The BBC reports that the kind strangers waited some time for the girl's parents to return, then eventually called the police. Once authorities arrived, the girl reportedly told officers that she was on her way to the beach when she saw her dad's car drive off without her. (Poor kid!) Finally, several hours later, the girl was happily reunited with her family. According to the BBC, local prosecutors are still considering whether or not to place charges.
While this story might sound like the plot line to Home Alone 6, accidents like these (though perhaps slightly less headline-making) do happen all the time. Here are five tips for keeping tabs on your kids while off on vacay.
1. Write Their Name And Phone Number On Everything — Just Make Sure It's Out Of Sight
You may have thought your own mom was crazy growing up for writing your name in all your camp underwear, but hey, she was on to something. Having your child's name and a contact number written on the inside of their lunch box, or hidden on an article of clothing, like on the tag, could make all the difference if they ever go missing. Of course, steer clear of having this info obvious to the naked eye — the Ohio Education Association (OEA) points out on their website that abductors could spot the child's first name and use it to start a friendly conversation. The OEA also advises that teaching your child important names and phone numbers is key — and the earlier you do it, the better.
2. Two Words: Glow Sticks
Believe it or not, glow sticks can double as excellent kid-tracking devices when you're out at night at a busy theme park or in a crowded area and are nervous about keeping them in your sight at all times. Give each kid a bracelet or a necklace with a different color, and they'll be hard to miss. You can also go one step further and get a wearable ID bracelet, like this one from SmartKidsID, which has a QR code that can be scanned by police to retrieve your child's info.
3. Consider A GPS Tracker
Yes, for real. As futuristic as this may sound, using GPS trackers is actually a growing trend among parents of young kids, and is an especially good option for kids with special needs. Some of the devices clip onto a waistband, similarly to a FitBit, while others look like little watches or bracelets, and sync to smartphone apps. They also aren't as pricey as you might think: Some GPS tracking devices can go for as little as $40 on Amazon. "Traveling with multiple children in strange areas can be a high anxiety situation," Todd Morris, founder of Brickhouse Security, recently told Yahoo. "Sometimes just knowing there's a safety net can help parents enjoy their vacation a bit more."
4. If They Get Lost, Tell Them To Look For Employees, Cops, Or Other Moms With Kids
I know, I know, telling your kids to actually talk to strangers kind of goes against the No. 1 rule in a parent's playbook. But in case they're ever lost of separated in a big crowd, it's a good idea to give them pointers on who they can most likely trust in that situation, and how to seek them out.
5. Talk Through Possible "What If" Scenarios Beforehand
Of course you don't want to freak your kid out, but simply talking through possible situations that might happen while you're out on vacation could be super helpful if you ever get separated. Sit down with your kids and hash it out. On the travel planning site MiniTime, one mom named Sandra shared how she prepped for a recent trip to New York City by going over "What to do if we get separated in the subway" scenarios with her son. "We told [him] to always go to where he'd find an employee — in this case, the ticket window in the station," she explained. "So if my son was left on the platform as the train pulled away, he was to go to the ticket window and wait. We would have hopped off at the next station and returned for him."
The OEA's website also has a few other must-know safety pointers on their website: Things like having up-to-date photos on your phone in case your child goes missing, always having a set plan of where you'll be going when you leave the house, and making a game of reading off license plate numbers and noting car colors when you're on the road. (The latter will help kids orient themselves and memorize numbers if they're ever in trouble.) Considering that over 466,000 kids go missing every year in the U.S., the more prepared you can make your family, the better.