Here are some practical tips you can use in case you get separated from your kids at the airport. (Photo: iStock)
Losing a child in a crowd is many a parent's worst nightmare, and an airport, especially international departures, is no different.
Even losing a sight of your kid for just a minute can feel like the longest minute of your life, but there are a few handy steps you can take to lessen the emotional impact if you ever lose your child's bobbing head in a sea of hustling travellers.
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Take a selfie as you get to the airport
As you get to the airport, or even just before, take a family selfie where you can see what everyone is wearing. The kids will think it's just something fun without making them panic, but it will come in real handy when trying to tell a security guard what your child was wearing, and they can quickly circulate the photo if needed.
Also make sure your younger kids are wearing bright colours with maybe a hat that will make it easier to spot them in a crowd.
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Point at safe people as you walk through to check-in
Kids are taught not talk to strangers, but this isn't always very feasible. Instead, teach them what adults they can talk to, and you can also point out to some security guards and police as you walk through the airport, so they have a sense of who they can ask for help.
They can also ask store personnel to help - you can buy something small with your kid at one of the airport shops so your kid knows a familiar face.
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What to do if security splits you from your kids
This is more likely to happen if you travel internationally, and is one of the ways that airport security keeps a lookout for human traffickers. Mostly what will happen is that the security will take your kids a little bit away and ask them if you are really their mommy and daddy.
What's important to note is that if you stay calm, your child will stay calm, and explain to them that the security just wants to make sure they're okay. As an extra measure, always get the name of the security guard that's accompanying your kids and asking them questions.
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Get them to memorise your boarding gate number
Make sure that as soon as you check-in and have gone through security, that everyone knows the boarding gate number. Signage for the boarding gate is easily marked and useful in case you get split up as you walk to the gate.
Before panic sets in, you can just meet up with your kid again at the gate.
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Make sure they have your cell number
While it's standard that most kids learn their parents' cell numbers before they learn their ABC's, some kids are just too young to remember it by heart. The best way is to make sure they have it one them in some format, and that they remember where to point to the number in case an adult asks.
You can make a bracelet with your number that the kids can wear. You can also stitch or write your number on one of their favourite toys that they always travel with.
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It's easier to find a missing child if they stay in the same place and not wander around too much, and it's important to reiterate this to them - unless they feel the space is unsafe they should just move into a shop and stay there.
Also make sure they understand to never go outside the airport or near the drop-and-go and parking areas, as this opens up more possibilities of kidnappings.
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