It’s hard to let yourself imagine the gut wrenching feeling you’d experience if you turned around in a crowded store, then turned back and saw your child was gone. Your face would get hot, you’d begin breathing rapidly, and panic would quickly set in. This is a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Our children are so precious, the thought of one of them being lost, missing, or having wandered off is unbearable.
Kids can go missing from almost anywhere and it can happen in a matter of seconds. Crowded public places, a playground or park, or even your own front yard are all common places from which children are reported missing. According to the US Bureau of National Crime Information Center, a child becomes missing or abducted every 40 seconds. Let that sink in. Every 40 seconds.
I can’t imagine having come up with a plan for this type of situation or any amount of preparation would ease the panic you’d feel if your child were missing. There are some steps you can take that will help to ensure the best possible outcome for your child.
Here are 4 simple tips to follow to increase your chances of locating a missing child:
Speak openly with your children about dangers.
Communicate regularly, and in an age appropriate manner, with your children about the dangers of wandering off, getting lost, or being abducted.
Be sure they know what you would and wouldn’t ask them to do. For instance, run through hypothetical situations with them. Go over what you want them to do if someone offered them a ride, asked them for directions or help around their car, or made them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Make sure they know who safe people are and where to find them. In stores, this might be security guards or store employees. Outside it could be police, firefighters, or park rangers.
Encouraging them to memorize their address and your cell phone number at an early age. You can begin to prepare your child for a worse case scenario in a non-intimidating way by making it like a game.
Always keep a current image of your child on you.
If your child goes missing, it is incredibly important to have an up-to-date image of them. You can share this image with security and/or authorities right away. This simple tip has become so much easier now that we all keep a phone with a camera on us basically 24/7. If you’re like me, you’ve got new photos of your kids on your phone just about every day.
Whenever there is a significant change to your child’s appearance, like a hair cut, be sure to snap a photo of them with a clear view of their face. Also make sure your images are being backed up somewhere so that you can access the images even if you don’t have your phone on you at the time.
Know what your child is wearing.
As best as you can, each day, make a mental note of what your child is wearing. Particularly take note of any distinguishing features like a character, colors, or design on the clothing. Try to remember brand names and sizes, if possible.
Also be aware of the things your child carries on them at all times. If they are younger, this might be a favorite toy. As they get older, this might be a piece of jewelry, a wallet, or cell phone.
Have a comprehensive record containing your child’s DNA and fingerprints.
Collect all of your child’s important information and samples and keep them together in a safe place. You’ll want to include things like their full name, medical and dental records, identifying marks like scars and birthmarks, and finally their school information. Have a list of your child’s closest friends and numbers where you can contact them.
Additionally it’s important to have DNA samples and fingerprints for each of your children. If you want to gather all of this information and have it in one safe space, consider putting together a child identification record for each of your children.
A child can go missing in the blink of an eye. If that happens, I know you want to be as calm and as prepared as possible. That way you can locate and reunite with your missing child.
Back in 2008, my husband and I were young, naive, and nearly 100K in debt. Two years into our marriage, we found ourselves living paycheck to paycheck and barely making ends meet. We had no emergency fund to fall back on and we had no clue how bad our spending habits had gotten.⠀
We got ourselves into a huge mess and we didn’t know how to get out of it.⠀⠀
Many families are going through unprecedented and unexpected financial difficulties right now. With most states issuing shelter in place orders and businesses closing aside for essential personnel, we’re seeing a spike in unemployment like never before. Many people who never imagined and never planned for losing their jobs are now finding themselves unemployed and unsure of where to go from here. ⠀
Is There a Lesson to Learn from Being in Debt?
Believe it or not, waking up to only $10 in the bank was a blessing in disguise for us. It taught us a lot more than we ever expected.⠀⠀
We had to really dig deep and ask ourselves if the kind of life we were leading was the kind of life we wanted our kids to grow up in. Only then were we able to make some changes that have lead to us living the debt free life we now enjoy.
What Happens When you aren’t Financially Prepared for a Crisis?
A crisis can take many different forms. It might be an unexpected medical expense, a totaled car that you still owe on, a house fire, or an unexpected layoff. It could also be a global pandemic that cripples the entire nation leading to a complete financial crisis. If I’d said that last one a few months ago, I bet you’d have looked at me like I had three heads – but here we are.
Needless to say, our current situation was not anything anyone was expecting. And, it’s hard to prepare for something that you can’t even dream up in your worst nightmare. But, when we aren’t prepared for a crisis, that is when we are most vulnerable .
If you have been caught off guard in this crisis without an emergency fund, you can use this time to really evaluate and reprioritize your family goals. It may not feel like it right now but maybe it is also your family’s blessing in disguise.⠀
How Can I Get a Budget in Place Quickly?
If you’ve found yourself in a tough spot financially for the first (or maybe, second, or third) time in your adult life, it’s not too late to take action. Don’t throw in the towel. With a little hard work, some tough decisions, and some smart budgeting, you can get yourself out of this mess.
But, the first thing you’ll have to do is let go of blame. You can’t begin to make the necessary changes in your habits if you are holding onto blame – of yourself or others. Then you’ll need to establish a reliable budget and to stick to it.
Here are some simple budgeting tips:
You need to know exactly how much money comes in each month and how much goes out.
Develop a system or process to pay down your debt.
Begin to spend within your means.
Add to your savings each month.
Following these simple steps will help you prepare for the next crisis.
How Can We Prepare Financially for a Future Crisis?
Please believe me, having your finances in order and being prepared for a financial crisis does not make you a DoomsDay Prepper.
The number one thing to do to prepare for a future crisis is to begin saving money in an emergency fund. Open a savings account and begin to add to it each month. Look into accounts with the best perks, like higher interest rates and lower fees.
Start small if you need to. Make sure that you are working to build it up each month and only taking from it in the case of an actual true crisis.
I Can Help You Out
Having been where you are now, I know the range of emotions you’re going through. I know I never want to be back in the place and I don’t want you to be either. That’s why I’ve made it my goal to help others take control of their financial situation through budgeting.
If you’d like budgeting support, let’s chat about 1:1 coaching! I’ll help you set up a systems that will work for your unique family. Info here! Get your info here!
The Holiday season encourages us to ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly,’ go ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland,’ and ‘Have a Cup of Cheer,’ and trust me all of that sounds wonderful but I can’t help but also add that we should be smart about it. Who says you can’t have it all right? You can enjoy yourself during the holidays, relax a little, and be on Santa’s good list by being safe, too.
Here are some helpful tips to make ‘Christmas brownie points’ with Santa and keep you and your family safe and on his good list.
When preparing that wonderful, delicious holiday meal there are a few things to keep in mind. Never leave a stove unattended, because unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires. You should also make sure you wash your hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. Food-borne illnesses are especially prevalent around the holiday season. Use separate cutting boards, plate and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration website provides some valuable holiday food safety tips to follow.
Do not leave a space heater unattended and make sure you turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Do not let pets or children play too close to a space heater, because they will get hurt.
Poisonous Holiday Plants:
Some popular and beautiful holiday plants can also be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and pets. Holly berries can be poisonous. A child can eat 1-2 holly berries without harm, but 20 holly berries is a serious concern. You don’t want to eat a beautiful, decorative poinsettia that is on your holiday dinner plate or placed by your fireplace. Worst case scenario, if you eat a few leaves of a poinsettia you will feel ill or vomit, but they’re not the absolute worst holiday plant to have around. On the other hand, mistletoe contains phoradendron which can cause blurred vision, nausea, and even death. All parts of the mistletoe are poisonous, but the berries are most attractive to kids. If your child eats 1-2 berries of mistletoe, it probably won’t cause a problem, but if your pet eats a few leaves or berries it could be endangered.
Make sure you are watering your Christmas tree daily, because dry trees can cause a very serious fire hazard. You should also make sure that they are on a stable platform at all times.
To remainInspect Electrical Decorations for Damage Before Use:
Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire. Cracked or damaged sockets can also cause a serious shock or start a fire. You don’t want to overload electrical outlets, and you should only plug one high-wattage appliance into each outlet at a time. Connecting more than three strands of lights may not only blow a fuse, but it can also cause a serious fire.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM):
If you absolutely have to stop at the ATM before a night out, try to choose one that is located inside a mall, police station or well-lighted location. You should only withdraw the amount of cash that you will need. You can protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keyboard from anyone who is standing near you. Whatever you do, do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.
Attending a Party:
If you’re invited to that special holiday party your friends or family have every year, make sure you have something to eat before consuming any alcoholic beverages. Eat things like high protein foods, which will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Only time will truly eliminate alcohol from your body, so know your safe limit and don’t drink and drive. To remain on the good list, be sure you designate a sober driver to give you a ride home, even if it’s on a sleigh.
‘Oh the weather outside is frightening… and those cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. To remain on the good list, be sure to dress warmly and wear lots of layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing. Make sure you are checking on the kiddos, your elders and don’t forget about your furry friends as well. Our pets sometimes seem to be the last thing we think about at this time of year, so be sure to make sure they are cozy and warm as well.
The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Be sure not to over-commit to too many parties and activities, and do your best not to over-spend. Balancing your work, home and play is a tough task, but with the support of family and friends it is possible to have a relaxed attitude about the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and possibly catch some zzzz’s at night as well.
‘Tis the season of ‘love’ and ‘craziness!’ Try to take lots of deep breaths and remember that none of us are perfect, but we can do our best to enjoy this holiday season as safely as possible.
I know I definitely want to be on ‘Santa’s Good List,’ so I will be taking my own advice and using these tips as well.
Here are some additional links to help you do some more research on how to keep your family on Santa’s good list this year:
It’s a sad but true reality – active shootings. While we can debate how we got to this place, what’s most helpful right now is learning how you can be prepared to save you and your family’s life.
Imagine you’re out at the mall, department store, or park. You’re going about your day and checking off lists, watching your kids play or enjoying time in a movie. Suddenly you hear what sounds like firecrackers but followed by screaming and panic. Your reality just changed. You’re in an active shooter situation.
What do you do next?
Three options for dealing with an active shooter situation:
Try to escape the area as quickly as possible. When you go into an area, be aware of at least two exit routes and have an escape plan in mind.
Be committed to escaping regardless if others refuse to get out
Help others escape if possible
Keep your hands up and visible if you encounter law enforcement
Call 911 when you are in a safe area
If you can’t escape, find a location where the active shooter is less likely to find you
Your hiding place should be out of view
Provide protection from gunfire if possible (brick, concrete, cinder block wall)
Use an office or room with a locked door. Use heavy furniture or office equipment to block the door.
If the active shooter is nearby,
Turn off the lights
Silence your cell phone or any other source of noise (TV, radio, etc.)
If possible, call 911 and alert the dispatcher where the shooter’s location is. If you cannot talk, leave the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen.
Remember, you may have to hide for hours until law enforcement secures the threat.
As a last resort, only fight when you cannot hide and your life and/or your family are in imminent danger.
Act as aggressively as possible and fully commit to your actions
Improvise weapons using items around you (fire extinguishers, chairs, etc.)
Law enforcement that arrives first on the scene have the primary job of eliminating the threat, it is unfortunately not to render help. They must stay focused on the situation and work to end the threat as soon as possible.
Help will come as more first responders arrive. It’s an unfortunate reality that we are faced with these situations but being aware of your surroundings and having a plan of action will help you survive. Take a look at this video made by the City of Houston, TX that reviews that same 3 tips for active shooter survival.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep our kids inside this bubble where we know they can never get themselves injured or hurt in any way? Or even if we could make sure that we’ll always be by their side to protect them from all the dangers in the world.
It’s simply not possible. Kids will be kids and your best bet is to teach them how to look out for their own safety and implement some strategies for handling different situations in and outside of the home.
Let’s cover some in home safety tips to consider:
This first one is an easy one but very challenging for young kids to adhere to. Teach them to never open the door for anyone unless they have been instructed to do so. We get it, when someone rings the door, they get super excited and automatically run to see who is there and we don’t want them opening the door to a potentially dangerous person
Have your kids memorize your phone numbers and their home address. Once in awhile, have them repeat it so that it stays fresh in their minds
Teach them how and when to call 911. Or if they can’t call, run to the neighbors house for help. Run through some scenarios and have them tell you what they should do.
Have a list of emergency contact numbers
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Have a smoke detector in every room. Most new detectors these days will beep at you when the batteries are dying to alert you to change them out.
Have a carbon monoxide detector in living and bedroom spaces. Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless so without these in place, it will not be detected.
Cover your unused electrical outlets. Even better is if you install the outlets with the safety features already built into it, that way you don’t need to worry about the kids prying them off or it getting taken out and misplaced.
Keep medicine and cleaning agents locked up or out of reach.
Talk to your kids about Internet Safety:
Teach them never give out personal information to anyone online
Put time restrictions on their usage
Have computers be located anywhere but inside their room
Track their history to see where they have visited
Have regular discussions on what is appropriate and what is not for them to interact with
Restrict which sites they can visit by setting this in the parental controls
Take some time out to discuss, map out and role play an emergency home evacuation plan
Decide on a central location to meet outside of the house
Practice what to do in case of a fire
If they can evacuate, crawl or stay low to see under the smoke
If they are trapped, stuff a towel under the door open a window and yell for help
Do not hide in a closet or under the bed. Hiding makes it harder for the firefighters to find you in smoky conditions
Use escape ladders if you have a multiple story house. There should be one in every bedroom. Make sure to familiarize yourself on how to use it.
Have emergency food and supplies on hand
Image by philipbase via Pixabay
Now let’s start with some outside of the home safety tips:
Theme park (or any crowded event) nightmare: You lose your kid in the crowd! Teach them to stay calm, stay put and flag down someone who works there. Emphasize with them that you will make your way back to find them and staying put will make that easier to do.
Or if you’re like a friend of mine who goes to Disneyland on a regular basis, before they start their day of adventures, they remind their kids of their special meeting spot (one for each park) to go to if any of them were to ever be separated.
When you’re out on vacation, don’t post pictures or videos on social media. This will just create opportunities to have your home burglarized
Teach them to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Know to look for cars coming. Know when it’s safe to cross the streets. Teach them not to run in parking lots. And of course, constantly remind them not to talk or go with any strangers under any circumstances.
If you found any of this information to be helpful, please share with a fellow parent.