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Help keep your child or elderly close while shopping

The only thing scarier during the holidays than the tally on a credit card bill come January is the idea of a child getting lost or abducted while out shopping. Safety tips can keep children by your side or help caregivers find kids fast should they wander off.

These are a busy few months at the mall, with many people packed into stores in search of the perfect gifts. Confusion and the sheer volume of shoppers can increase the chance that a child will get lost.

A lost child can create panic parents and caregivers. However, keeping a level head is more beneficial than running off to find the child. Although preventing a child from wandering off is the best method of protection, being prepared for what to do should the child go missing is equally important.

* Have a Meeting place in case it does happen.

* Dress in an outfit to stand out instead of blend in.

* With phones today, take a picture of your loved one so you have a picture of what they are wearing, how the hair style is, even down to the scrapes that might be described.

* Make sure your loved one knows your phone number.  This way they can recite it and call you right away to another adult, police officer, or store attendant.

* I know holding hands is next to impossible while shopping.  There are other ways to keep ones from wondering too far.  Put a blinking light on the arm so they stay visible.  Just be sure to keep the light in your mind and sights.

* Reinforce positive behavior. Should a child wander off and follow safety tips, reward that behavior with praise when you are reunited. Wait until another time to talk about why he or she got lost and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Children tend to wander off out of curiosity or by following the wrong person. During the busy holiday season this can happen more frequently.

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