13 August 2007

Custom silicone bracelet as preschooler travel ID

With the summer travel season upon us, it's a good time to revisit the ways in which we can make our lost kids "findable" in crowded places. We published a hack last year suggesting rubber bracelets as ID, but Dawn's hack points to a company that prints small quantities. (Erin's comment on the original post pointed to the same company, but the minimum order has gone down, hence the redux.)

I have 2 children ages 4 & almost 2, and season passes to the local amusement/water park. My impatient oldest child decided one day he couldn’t wait for me to get my daughter out of her stroller to ride a ride. I turned around and he was gone! Long story short, he was found by the security officers who were called when I reported him missing.

From that day forward I tried to find a way to have my cell phone number on them both. After numerous tries with Sharpie pens, (sunscreen takes off Sharpie ink) stickers on their clothes, tyvek bracelets (don’t stand up to a day in the water) and even medical type bracelets (sunscreen/sharpie problem), I found ReminderBand. I ordered the minimum order of 5 silicone bracelets in neon green with black ink for about $25. The bracelets say: Mom’s Cell (XXX) XXX-XXX  Dad’s Cell (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

I made a game out of my daughter wearing hers. Of course my son wanted one of his own, so I pulled out another for him. I keep the extras in my purse should I ever be caught needing them. I am teaching my kids if they can’t find Mommy or Daddy, to find the nearest other mommy/daddy or uniformed employee and show them their bracelet.

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Sunscreen takes off sharpie...good to know. I've been using a note in my daughter's pocket. I tell her that if she can't find me she should find a mommy with children or a helper and give them the note. The note has her name, my name, and my cell phone number.

We call employees "helpers." I make sure to point out the helpers wherever we go. We were at Newport Aquarium during Shark Week and they all wore loud Hawaiian Shirts with funny hats. My daughter had a great time spotting the helpers.

I think the most important thing is not whether the cell number is memorized, in a pocket, written on their body or on a bracelet, but that you have practiced the routine. We stand in entrances letting others go in front of us while I insist that my children give me the right answers to my "what will you do if you can't find me?" question.

1. Hold still. Don't walk anywhere.
2. Yell for me. My name is not "Mom", but "Jill Lastname".
3. Ask a mom/dad for help, showing them my cell phone number.

We do this so often I think it annoys my kids, but I see other parents around me noticing and hopefully taking a moment to repeat it with their own children.

We have used a variation on the silicone bracelet theme with our son, now 7, when traveling, but didn't need to order custom ones since a gent on a mailing list I'm on ran up about 500 of them for list members... and the list is international. Our chances of running across another anyone else wearing one in any tourist group are slim, and if we -- or the boy did -- the nature of the group is such that the wearer would be more inclined to help get us back together than take advantage of our son. Also, since ours are tri-color, they're pretty easy to spot at a distance among everyone else's bracelets, and it gives the site staff/local law enforcement something else to use for a quick ID without putting any personal information to speak of out where people could use it against the boy... who knows that anyone else who comes with said bracelet but doesn't have a nickname or know certain quotes isn't legitimate. Authentication is a healthy and respected habit in a household of gamers, after all, even without kids involved.

I love these tips- the bracelet and the routine. We try to work with out daughter to help her identify the right people to ask for help- the "good stranger" vs "bad" stranger can be tough to grasp. Her camp gave her a good dose of "stranger Danger" and now she won't talk to anyone!

At a theme park last year we sharpied our cell phone # onto the inside hem of her shirt and shorts.
thanks, MKZ

Check out this site for those bracelets -- they have no minimum.
http://www.wristbands-with-a-message.com/

Kristi

you can also use these bracelets as IDs on sippy cups.. they fit perfectly!!!

Is it really safe to suggest to a child that they find a mommy with children to help them? Although most mommies are probably safe, not all of them are.

Kirsten: I feel like the chances of finding a mommy for help are better than having them leave their spot to search for a "helper/worker" as those can be few and far between when your child gets lost at, say, a department store. You are right; no solution is foolproof, but I feel like looking for a parent with children might be the best option.

I've taught my kids a variant of Jill's (stay in one place, call out for me, don't leave with anyone). When we took both our kids to a big anti-war demo in NYC a few years ago, I put notes with LOTS of phone numbers in a ziploc bag, pinned to the inside of their shirts. I figured that we might not be able to hear our cell phones, so having numbers for people who weren't with us was important, too.

My oldest is only two so I haven't had to think much about this yet. Thank you for the great tips!

Our kids are now at the age that they are out of the strollers and more into the indepenent walking. Our 6 year old daughter has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and pretty much clams up with anyone she doesn't know. So, the worries of her getting separated from us at amusement parks was also a worry. I went to Wal-mart and made up a dog tag necklace that she wears all the time that says:

Parents:
Mom Name & Dad Name
(mom cell #)
(dad cell #)

Luggage tags are great too. Most are water proof/resistant, you can change the information in them depending on who the child is with (in case they go with a friend/friend's parents), and they attach easily to a belt loop. Bigger luggage tags can be used with small children so they're easy to spot, but smaller tags would probably be appreciated by the bigger kids. They're also pretty much sold anywhere that travel accessories are sold (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.).

BumpyName Orbit is where we ordered a set of 4 custom labels with one line of text for 11.95 (you can add a second line for a dollar more). They also sell 3 labels (from a list of names that they have in inventory) for 7.95. You can choose from 4 different colors. You can also choose to have your text in braille.

We ordered a custom set for each of our daughters and they are great. With the custom orders you can have anything....names, phone numbers, address. And not only are they great for children, but also for adults. You can use them for all sorts of bottles, but my oldest daughter takes it off of her cups and wears her's as a bracelet.

These work great with my daughter:

https://www.stuckonyou.biz/usa/index.asp

I love these hacks, but getting my kids to keep a bracelet or dog tag necklace on without fiddling/dropping etc. would be a nightmare. Once they are old enough to go anywhere without a parent (even school), I go to the pet store and get those engraved dog tags that go on a collar. One always goes on the backpack, but you could easily use these as zipper pulls, too. They're fairly cheap ($5-8, usually), and come in non-dog themes so your kids aren't wearing engraved dog bones around...

My mantra for the kids is, if we get seperated, "look with your eyes and your mouth but not with your feet." Ie- look around with your eyes, call for us, but stay put.

Check out this site, http://www.theawristocrat.com They also offer custom silicone bracelets at a very affordable price.

Another option, esp. for kids who take their bracelets off, can be found at http://www.roadid.com . They make an engraved dog-tag that attaches to a shoe with velcro straps -- sized for an adult, but at 3" long should fit on the shoes of almost anyone who's old enough to be walking around.

And if your kid fiddles this off too, stapling the velcro tab closed looks like it should work for a more permanent solution!

Wristbands Direct can also manufacture rubber bracelets with no minimums. They also have rubber keychains and lanyards which can be engraved with a message as well.
Though these are nice precautionary measures, the best case scenario is to never let our young ones out of our site.

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