Fairs, Festivals, and Amusement Park Safety...How to Keep Your Child Safe from Strangers this Summer
by Michelle Annese

How do you keep your child ‘stranger safe’ this summer? Now children are out of school, there is more time for families to make life-lasting memories when going out to enjoy fairs, festivals, and amusement parks. Here’s a plan to keep them safe.

Parents, you know there is always an increase in anxiety and stress when going on family outings and when the safety security of your family is on your mind. Not sure where to start? Take a few minutes and start with a family safety plan by following some of these easy steps so it’s not just the kids having all the fun…you can too!

Before going to the event, tell your child…

…to have fun while paying attention to where they are and who they are with at all times.

…they should not be alone in the park or become isolated with anyone, even characters in costume. Tell them not to accept any prizes, offers, or gifts from anyone until they have checked with you FIRST.

…they should be cautioned not to engage in conversation with or offer assistance to anyone until they have checked with you.

…to tell you if anyone approaches them or makes them feel uncomfortable. Tell you children if they are approached by anyone who tries to take them to yell “This person is not my father (mother)!” and do whatever they need to do (kick, punch, scratch,) to get away from that person.

… if you become separated in the park to go to the closest “Help/Information Center” to ask the people there to “find my parents and bring them to me here at this Center” or, in the case of older children, make the “Help/Information Center” the spot where you can “meet up”. Make sure your child understands they should never search for you on their own or look for you outside the park, especially in the parking lot.

…these rules also apply when they are taking part in a field trip through their school or youth group. If you are not joining them for the trip, they need to check first with and tell the responsible adult in charge or a designated chaperone if anything is wrong.

As a parent you should…

…get all the information about the park prior to you trip, and review the park guidelines, particularly those regarding lost children. Discuss the information with your family, including what to do if you become separated. As your children what they would do in certain situations, and practice appropriate actions and responses with your children.

…get a map immediately arriving, identify the “Help/Information Centers” throughout the park and reinforce the idea these are the places for children to go to in case you become separated in the park. Making a plan before hand, in case you are separated, should greatly speed up the reunion.

…talk to your child about who can help them if they become lost, need help, or are in trouble. Examples: park personnel with nametags or uniforms or mothers with strollers and children.

… never let your child use public bathrooms or changing facilities alone.

…not put your child’s name prominently displayed on clothing, backpacks, or jewelry.

…make sure your child has emergency contact numbers with them if they ever need assistance including your cell phone numbers.

…dress your child in or asking them to wear brightly colored clothes so you can easily spot them in the park.

…accompany young children on rides in the park. Older children should stay in groups and take a friend with them wherever they go in the park. If you decide to let young children go on rides without you, wait with them in line, watch them enter the ride, and immediately meet them when they exit the ride.

…immediately report any suspicious or inappropriate behavior to authorities.

…make certain your child has change to use the telephone. If you have a cell phone or pager, make certain your children know those numbers and how to activate them on the phone. Parents might want to invest in two way radios so family members can keep in contact with each other.

…immediately report your child missing if you become separated. Be prepared to give an accurate and detailed description of your child. You should carry recent photograph and be able to accurately describe the clothing the child is wearing

…make certain there is going to be qualified supervision of the children by responsible adults when granting permission for your child to go on a field trip.

By taking the time to share with your family a safety plan for your next trip to a fair, festival or amusement park fun can be had by all. Without the worry of a family member missing or lost.

*information source: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (www.missingkids.com )*

About the Author
Michelle Annese is a 3rd degree black belt with 15+ years experience teaching self defense and safety for women and children. She is a World Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductee for Achievement and creator of The SafeGuard System for Kids. For more information on how to protect yourself and your family go to http://www.michelleannese.com and check out other articles by Michelle Annese and get her free weekly safety tips e-newsletter
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