Avoid Disaster This Christmas Season With These Vital Tips

We’re fully immersed in the Christmas shopping season, and the crowds and traffic get worse every day.

While many of us will take full advantage of online shopping this season, there is something traditional about making a trip to the crowded mall that we just can’t do without.

But the stress and crowds can spell danger for your kids, so there are a few things every parent needs to know.

On Black Friday this year, one family did what millions of others did after finishing their Thanksgiving dinner — they kicked off the Christmas season with a family shopping trip.

This trip turned into a frightening and dangerous situation for one little boy, however, when he ended up alone for hours after the store closed for the night.

Three-year-old Quincy was part of a large group of family members, including several adults and small children.

Stores are, of course, bustling and busy this time of year, and were especially so this past Thanksgiving weekend.

Somehow, when Quincy’s family left the store in two groups driving separate cars, the little boy was left behind.  Each group of adults thought Quincy had gone with the other, but their informal plans backfired.

Little Quincy was found in the middle of the night by an employee preparing for the next day’s opening and the authorities were called.

He was unable to provide any information, and police searched for five hours for his family.  They eventually turned to social media and friends informed the child’s mother that police were looking for her.

No charges have yet been filed, but Quincy is in the care of his aunt while the situation is being investigated.

The little boy is safe, but the incident could have become a tragedy of epic proportions.

We’re probably all thinking, “How could anyone leave their child and not notice they’re missing?  That would never happen to me!”

Well, it’s a busy time of year and the frenzy can get the better of any parent.

Remember Home Alone?  While that fictional story is highly unlikely to happen to any of us, it is more common than we’d like to think for a child to be left behind in a public place.

And the most common reason for it is the lack of a concrete plan and set of ground rules to keep kids safe.

The reason Quincy was left behind is because both groups of adults made an assumption that he was with the other.

The first thing that every family should do when going to a crowded shopping area – especially when in a large group – is assign each child to an adult.

Gather everyone together before you head out and assign the groups.  Make sure each child knows which adult they must stay with for the duration of the trip — and no switching groups for any reason!

For example, tell the little ones, “You’re in Aunt Sarah’s group.  Stay with her at all times.” Go over this several time,s along with safety tips for what to do if they get lost or separated from their group.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least one adult in charge of no more than three young children.  It’s also good to enlist the help of an older child or teenager in the family to act as a second set of eyes.

You can even make it fun by giving each group a name and wearing some kind of identifying object, for example, one group can wear Santa hats and another can wear reindeer antlers or any other fun thing you can think of!

Always have a meeting place that is determined ahead of time if anyone gets lost and pin your cell phone number to the inside of your child’s shirt in case they get lost.

Mommy Underground has lots of other important tips and ideas for keeping your child safe in large groups that can be used when traveling this Christmas or anywhere you may go where there are large crowds.

The bottom line is, make a plan ahead of time and stick to it.

Go over the plan with everyone and make sure every adult and child knows who they are supposed to stay with and who they are riding home with.

Teach your kids what to do if they get lost and go over safety information over and over again from an early age.

And most importantly, never take your eyes off of a small child in a public place.  Hold their hand, keep them buckled in the stroller or cart, or even keep them on a safety harness at all times.

It’s that important.

Mommy Underground wishes you a blessed and safe Christmas season – and sends our prayers for a little extra patience during those crazy Christmas shopping trips.

Do you have a family safety plan when going out in groups or to crowded areas?  Leave us your safety tips in the comments!

 

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