Child Safety at the Mall – what You and Your Kids Need to Know
Every year, millions of shoppers descend upon the country’s malls looking for the perfect holiday gifts. Here are some simple strategies to ensure a fun and safe holiday shopping experience for your entire family: 1.
Before heading out to the mall, talk to your children about what to do if they get separated from you. Teach younger children to stay put and not go looking for you. Identify specific people the child can ask for help (e.g. a salesperson with a name tag, a security guard.) For older children, establish a central meeting place (such as the information desk.)
2. Tuck your home and cell phone numbers inside your children’s pocket. A distraught child might not be able to recall and articulate important information while in a stressful situation.
3. Always supervise your children and always accompany them to the restroom. Make certain your children know to stay with you at all times while shopping. Teach children not to run, walk or hide from their parents. Consider bringing along a friend or relative, if possible, to help supervise children while you wait on line.
4. Don’t let kids listen to their iPod or play hand-held video games while walking with you. It is a sure way for them to get separated from the family
5. If your children are old enough to shop on their own during a family mall outing, make sure they wear a watch, carry a cell phone or walkie-talkie and arrange frequent check-ins with you.
6. Shop early and leave early to avoid evening darkness. If you must go at night, park in a well-lit area as close as possible to your destination. Jot down or text yourself the parking lot number so you can find your car quickly upon departure. Arrange for a security escort to take you to your car if you feel uncomfortable and lock your doors as soon as you’re inside.
7. To quickly handle blisters, scrapes, runny noses and hunger pangs, tote a bag filled with essentials such as tissues, healthy snacks such as a banana or granola bar, bottled water, and bandages. In addition, with the flu season in full swing, if soap and water are not available, it’s important to carry and use alcohol- based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers to help keep everyone’s hands clean and reduce the spread of germs.
8. Make sure the toys you purchase are age appropriate and safe. Read labels, follow age recommendations and keep up-to-date on recalled products. To stay current, visit www.recalls.gov 9. A gift is not complete unless the proper protective gear is included. Helmets and other protective gear such as elbow, knee and wrist pads should accompany gifts such as bicycles, skates, and skateboards. 10. Lock your holiday gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Nothing of value to you should be left in plain view. Cars can be an easy target for criminals.
About the Author: Debra Holtzman has a master’s degree in occupational health and safety, is an attorney and is the mother of two children. She is, an internationally acclaimed safety and health expert, and best-selling author of The Safe Baby, Expanded and Revised: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living. She has appeared on major TV news and radio shows around the world and was chosen an “Everyday Hero” by Reader’s Digest Magazine. She teaches infant safety and CPR classes at a regional hospital. Her newest book, “The Safe Baby: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living” (Sentient Publications, 2009) provides lots of money savings tips and easy-to-implement solutions to provide a safe, healthy, and green living lifestyle for children and pets.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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