Friday, April 5, 2013

We lost our daughter at the Zoo! Do your kids know what to do if they can't find you?

Yes, you heard it right. We lost our daughter at the zoo last week. Thankfully it was just for a minute or two. But it was long enough for my heart to drop down into my stomach. 

We took advantage of a beautiful holiday Friday and packed the kids in the car for a day at the Toronto Zoo. On the way we picked up my sister and her daughter. After a long, cold, snowy winter, we were so happy to spend the day outside in the warming weather. We had just finished lunch, my hubby and I were clearing off the table and putting our garbage in the bin. My sister had her daughter in the stroller and started walking toward the restroom. After the table was cleared my hubby and I went to follow her. We were pretty sure the kids had followed her but when we caught up my oldest asked where her sister was.

We quickly headed back to the table where we had eaten and found a nice lady holding my daughter's hand as she cried. When she saw me she cried "Mommy! I lost myself!" Oh man did that break my heart. Turns out that she had been playing on the stairs next to our table and didn't notice when we all walked away. I felt soooo bad! For days she asked me why I left her. All I can say is, I thought you were with Auntie.

So, the question is...are YOUR kids prepared if this happened to them? My daughter wasn't. Thankfully we were only gone a minute and she was easy to find. But that might not be the case next time. So what do we tell our kids to do if they find themselves lost? I did some research and found a few tips. But I'd love to hear your tips and what you've done to prepare your children.

This is in no way professional advice but I hope it gets you thinking and helps prepare your family in the case it ever happens to you.

First: make sure they know to stay still and wait for me to find them. If they go running off looking for you they will just get themselves more lost and make it much harder to be found. Also if an adult wants to take them away they should say that their parents have told them never to go anywhere with someone without their parents permission.

Second: have them call for us. I read that it's best to have them call out our REAL names, NOT mommy and daddy. There were tons of kids at the zoo and hearing a child call mommy or daddy won't always get your attention. Best to use your real names.

Third:  make sure my kids know my cell phone number. Everyone has a cell these days. My daughter could ask someone to call me. If you're kids are too young to remember or might forget when they are lost and scared you can use safety wristbands with your name and number on it. I've read that it's a good idea to tell your kids to ask another mother for help. They are more likely to be inclined to help a lost child and are a safer choice compared to a man who is alone.

Make sure to regularly remind your children about these safety rules and maybe even do some role playing. Make it fun and memorable. Hopefully you'll be more prepared than we were.

If you have your own tips on how to keep our kids safe and prepared for situations like this I'd really love to hear your comments. 

Disclosure: I am an Oliver's Labels agent and this post contains a link to our safety wristbands. I have purchased their safety wristbands myself and actually forgot to put one on my daughter that day. I won't be making that mistake twice.


  1. Like your article. Glad that it was a short-lived event. I like your tips too. They are very thoughtful and useful.

  2. Thanks for those tips!

  3. Yes I too thank you for these awesome tips! 2 yrs ago I went to Florida and two of my nieces came with us. Haley then 11, Elisa then 7. We all went to Disney World, and we all went to a street dance where all of the kiddies could join in with a whole whack of Disney Characters and dance, as to which we all did. There was so many people around that it was impossible to watch the kids every second! I flipped out when I could no longer see them and panicked to no end! Finally one of the Disney guards walked over to my with those two in tow, thank God Haley told a security guard that they were lost! That was so scary!!!!!

    1. Wow! Disney World is huge. I would have freaked out too. Glad you had a happy ending too :)

    2. Thank you! Yes it was horrible, but when all of the children and adults start dancing with the characters, it is so easy to lose sight of the little ones! I did of course tell them prior to walking in that we must stick together, and if any one of us were to lose the other, we will meet under the big clock at the entrance. Haley told me after that if they did not end up finding us, that she and Elisa would have walked right over to the big clock which was awesome, and one must always have a plan prior to entering any place.

  4. Oh what a scary time for you and your husband! Thank Heavens you daughter was found safe & sound.
    We had an experience that terrified us at Canada's Wonderland years ago. Our daughter (who is now 32, but was only 4 at the time) went into one of the waterfall tunnels with her older sister (she was 8) and we waited at the entrance. Looking back, I wonder what we were thinking, but it wan't busy and things were different back then...still...
    Well, Janice came out, but Tanya didn't. We spent 10ish (very long) minutes looking for her, leaving me at the spot she entered. I was so scared, but we found each other and had a happy reunion.
    You have some fantastic tips here for parents. I would like to share this with my daughters and sons so they are prepared with their kids. And I'm pinning!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Debbie :)

  5. Such an important topic to discuss with our kids!

  6. These are great tips! Losing a child is every mother's greatest nightmare and I'm sure almost every mom has experienced this at least once in their lifetime.

    Thanks for posting this!

  7. Great tips! I used Safety Tats when we were in Disney. They sound expensive at 6 for $10 on Amazon, but they last up to 2 weeks through water and everything. I kept the rest to use for our zoo or fair trips here at home. I'm glad she wasn't lost for long!!

  8. Great tips! I will remember those when my boys are over.
    So glad your story had a happy ending :)

  9. You must have been so scared - I have not had that talk with my kids and I think it is time I did. Thank you for the great tips.

  10. Thanks for the tips! I've always feared losing a kid and whenever I go out with my kids or they go out in a school trip I write my cell number on their wrist with a pen. This way I'm sure they won't lose it...


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