It is very scary to lose a child at a theme park. Your child might wander off while you are talking to someone, ordering your food at the food court, or even taking a picture. She may run after her favorite character or simply get “mixed” with a large crowd.
Here are some tips on what to do when your child gets lost:
Do not panic. It is understandable that you are worried, but panicking will make it worse. Staying calm and collected will help you to think clearly. Stay in the same area for a few minutes while looking around for your child. Often, children go to look at something and then come right back. They are not really lost, just overly excited and a little careless.
If you can’t see her and she is not back after a few minutes, talk to the nearest park employee. He or she will call the park security that there is a lost child. Every theme park has its own regulations and procedures for finding lost children and the staff is trained in that matter. It is your best bet to find your child quickly. It is a good idea to start the search as soon as possible. And, even if you make a mistake and she is not lost, but just a few feet away, it is better to call the search off rather than looking for your child by yourself.
Give the security staff detailed description of your child: her age, height, weight, color of her hair, clothing, shoes, etc. Show them her current photo, if available. Tell them where you were before she got lost. Maybe your child ran back to a certain ride that she liked so much. Stay with the security personnel. Running off and trying to find your child on your own will not make things better. Cooperate and follow their instructions.
Lost children are usually taken by the staff to a designated “lost child” area. That’s where your child will most likely be taken once she is found. If your child isn’t found within a couple of hours, the park’s security should be notifying all the employees and the local authorities, as well.
Losing your child at a theme park can be frightening and many parents try not to think about it while planning their vacation. However, it is a good idea to take some precautions and come prepared for such a possibility.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for visiting a theme park to prevent your child from getting lost:
Before heading to the park, have a talk with your child about safety and the possibility of getting lost. Make a rule that you and your child stay together at all times while at the park.
However, if your child gets separated from you, she also needs to know what to do. Tell her that in that case she needs to look for a park employee. Many theme parks have their security staff wear uniforms, so it is relatively easy to find them. Otherwise, she can go to the nearest booth or ride and talk to the attendants. Let your child know that it is not safe to ask for help anyone other than a park employee, no matter how nice they are.
Dress your child in bright-colored clothes. If you have more than one child, have all of your kids wear identical bright colored t-shirts.
Take a picture of each of your children with your camera or cell phone just before entering the park. That way you will be able to show it to the park staff in case one of them gets lost. Having a current photo of your child on hand will make it much easier than trying to describe her, especially when you are stressed out.
Many theme parks offer name tags or wrist labels. Even if you are not comfortable to write your child’s name on such label, you can always write the name of your cell phone number. Some parents use masking tape to write the appropriate information and tape it to their child’s clothing. If you want to go fancy, you can purchase personalized temporary tattoos that have your phone number in the design.
Older children are usually able to memorize a phone number, but for insurance, you can still have them write it down. If you are planning to let your children use cell phones or walkie-talkies, make sure they know how to use them and keep them in zippered pockets so they don’t lose them. Program your cell phone number into your child’s cell phone. Also, remember to charge all the phones and walkie-talkies overnight before going to the park.
Young children can be strapped in a stroller or carried in a backpack carrier. Toddler leashes are not recommended. They may actually be dangerous especially if left on during rides.
While in the park, find an area that will be your meeting place in case you get separated. It may be a certain ride, a restaurant or even a guest service office. Older children should not have a problem to remember. For younger children, write it down on paper (along with your cell phone number), or mark it on the park’s map and put it in their pockets. They will be able to show it to the park’s employees if they get lost.
Children get lost at theme parks all the time. Nearly 30% of all families that visit theme parks lose their child. Most children are found quickly, but sometimes the trauma of getting lost may stay with your child for a long time. That’s why it is important to prepare yourself and your child and to have a plan of action.