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Reassurance for Road Worriers | T+L Family

Losing Your Child

THE WORRY In the tumult of travel, someone in your group—especially a small, vulnerable someone—may go astray.

THE REALITY Children do get lost—about 2,000 are reported missing daily in the United States, according to the FBI—but the overwhelming majority are found within a couple of hours. Plus, a host of child-identification products have been introduced in recent years, from Velcro tags (with a place on the inside to write the child’s name and parents’ cell numbers—available at mypreciouskids.com) to GPS-equipped cell phones (which enable parents to keep tabs on their kids’ whereabouts via satellite; check out Disney’s model at disneymobile.com). Or try Tattoos with a Purpose (tattooswithapurpose.com): crucial contact information is affixed with a washcloth, then fades away after about a week. Amusement parks are doing their bit, too: many U.S. parks now supply radio-frequency identification tags, known as RFID’s, which enable parents to track their kids from a kiosk. At Wannado City, a theme park in Sunrise, Florida, the price of admission includes a ­WannaFinder, a plastic locator bracelet (it looks like a kiddie watch) equipped with Wi-Fi, that transmits the wearer’s location to touch screens that parents can check.

WORD OF ADVICE Tried-and-true group-travel tactics are not to be forgotten. Dress your kids in matching clothes so they’re easy to spot. Make them memorize your cell-phone number. Put your hotel’s name, address, and telephone in each child’s pocket. And teach your kids what to do if they do get lost—seek out official personnel rather than searching for you by themselves. Show them what the police look like wherever you are, and point out the uniforms, hats, or name tags of other people in a position to help. But don’t forget: Nothing beats your own watchful gaze.

Ernest Beck, a New York–based freelance writer, is a ­frequent contributor to The New York Times, Worth, and SmallBiz.

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