Whether it is a crowded shopping trip, a Theme Park, Fireworks Display or Concert one thing for sure is that there will be a lot of people!
Huge crowds can be daunting for any of us, but particularly for children, thinking ahead and taking a few basic precautions can help avoid a lot of distress and trauma should things go wrong and help make the day truly enjoyable and memorable for all the right reasons.
Dress appropriately: Make sure everyone is wearing suitable, comfortable shoes that cover the toes in case they get trodden on. Look at the weather forecast and wear layers with wet weather gear/hats/sun cream as necessary!
Avoid clothes and hairbands with children’s names on them as this can attract unwanted attention and lead children thinking a stranger knows them. For older children it may be better to avoid football shirts as again this can lead to unwanted attention from rival fans.
You may want to dress the children in slightly unusual or easily noticeable colours and take a photo of them on your phone before you leave so that you have a recent photo with you showing exactly what they are wearing. This digital photo can be swiftly circulated by police should you be separated from your child.
How to transport little ones:
This is very much a matter of personal choice; but remember that moving distances in crowds can be a scary experience if you are at leg level and little ones tire quickly. Buggies can be helpful and can allow the child to sleep when tired, but if there are a huge number of people, children are vulnerable in push chairs and could get trampled.
My favourite way to transport babies is in the baby sling.
If you have toddlers and put them on your shoulders, be very careful how you get them up there and take them down again as it is very easy to dislocate their elbows and shoulders – get another adult to help. Always make sure they are holding on firmly and you have stable footing as it would be a long distance to fall.
Have a plan should you be separated:
Teach children to identify a suitable person to ask if they should be separated – help them to identify police uniforms and security staff. If they can’t find anyone in a known uniform, they should go to another mother with their children and ask them to call you. Tell the children they shouldn’t wander off to find help, but should stay where they were when they lost sight of you – you will then have a better idea as to where to find them and they are likely to still be close by.
Create a name band for your child and secure it round their wrist – this should just have mobile phone numbers, any medical problems and a back-up land line number where someone is available to answer. There are many kits available on the market ranging from ID bracelets to little magnifying necklaces that show all of your information. For a simpler version, you can print all of your information onto a small business card, laminate it and then attach it to your child’s jacket, belt loop, in a back pocket – tell the child where it is and what it is for. If your child gets separated from you, this will allow an adult to contact you immediately.
For older children, identify an obvious place where you should meet if you get separated. Ensure that they have their phones with them and they are fully charged and on outdoor mode (not mute). Make sure that you check that you are all have the same time and meet regularly to touch base, rather than allow them freedom for long periods at a time.
Remind them to be careful and keep their possessions and money out of sight as pick pockets love crowds.
Also talk to them about avoiding unnecessary risks and avoiding injury in the struggle to see over the crowds. There is a huge temptation to climb things and perch precariously and this is incredibly dangerous.
Hold Hands – The simple act of holding hands with your children can make the difference between a happy family outing and a desperate search for a lost child. Starting the habit of holding hands at an early age can be really helpful in the years to come, not only in large crowds.
Keep Your Child Within arm’s Reach – If your child feels too old for hand holding, then make sure that they are within an easy grab. Many parents consider their child safe as long as they can see them, but how many parents have looked away for a second only to look back and their child is nowhere to be found?
Take water and snacks with you so that the children are well fed and hydrated and have enough energy to enjoy the day. A miserable child can quickly spoil the event for everyone.
Make enough time to queue for the loo before the main event! Take toilet roll or tissues and hand sanitizer with you.
Take a compact but sensible First Aid kit, so that you are prepared should you need it.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visithttp://firstaidforlife.org.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.
First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.