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Safety on the family vacation

June 6, 2012
The Daily News

Despite the increasing cost of travel, Americans are expected to embark on more than 200 million trips this summer.

Some trips will be close to home, others will be cross-country summer vacations.

A summer adventure can quickly turn into a terrifying situation when a child is lost. Their quick recovery is a matter of life and death.

Approximately 600,000 children a year, or one every 40 seconds, are lost.

Unfamiliar vacation spots pose the greatest threat for children becoming lost or injured.

Safety experts offer parents the following tips to make summer travel safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

- Instruct children to never go anywhere without first getting permission.

- Have children wear an up-to-date, discreet personal identification at all times that includes three emergency contacts, medical conditions and more.

- Parents should always carry a current photo identification of their child.

- Before going on an outing, play a game of "What do I look like?" Have children recite what parents look like and what they are wearing that day. Parents should note child's clothing.

- If lost, tell children to stay where they are. Don't go running around looking for mommy and daddy. Assure them you will return to where you last saw the child.

- Everywhere you go, point out a uniformed employee so children know whom to look for in case of an emergency.

- Tell children to also look for another mother with young children and go to her. Mothers are most likely to help other young children.

- Teach children to show their personal identification to another mother or uniformed employee in an emergency situation, so the adult can quickly contact parents.

- Go over stranger rules: never talk to stranger unless you need help in an emergency, stay a safe distance from people you don't know. Scream "Help - You're not my mommy or daddy," if someone tries to grab them.

- Teach children to rip off their personal identification and leave it as a clue for law enforcement if a stranger takes them.

- If children are traveling with friends or grandparents, make sure the responsible adult carries a medical release form for the child, signed by the parents so that adult can authorize medical treatment immediately in a medical emergency. The child's personal identification will ensure that parents can be notified quickly in an emergency.

"A personal ID worn by the child, coupled with an up-to-date photo ID for the parents to carry, greatly improves your odds for finding your child - quickly," says Daniel Risch, Houston EMT. "An ID worn on the child allows EMTs to contact parents while en route to the hospital. A personal ID with emergency numbers can mean the difference between an injured child receiving immediate medical treatment, or lying in the hospital emergency room alone for hours awaiting identification."

Consider these statistics:

- The F.B.I. receives more than 2,000 missing child reports every day.

- Each year, some 600,000 children are lost from their parents, the majority of which are seven years old and younger, with age two being most at risk.

- Children who can be identified immediately spend an average of 10 minutes away from their parents in "lost or missing" types of situations, compared to one to six hours for children who cannot be identified.



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