Here are some ideas about how to be safe while shopping with kids during the holidays from Sgt. Everett DeGrush of the Fowlerville Police Department.
The time is drawing near for Christmas with the shopping season closing in fast. When you take the kids out shopping try to follow these simple rules to make sure they are safe.
It is one of the busiest times of the year for me; trouble always seems to increase as the holidays come upon us. I don’t think that there is a worse feeling that a parent can have than having a child in trouble or missing. Raising awareness for both parents and children helps keep everyone safe
Never drop off your child to shop alone if they are at an age where you won’t leave them alone at home. There is no magic age that will determine this, it is a parent’s decision as to when they are responsible enough. If a younger child needs to shop for you, perhaps they can go with an older sibling, grandparent or family friend. Just think how much fun they will have shopping with grandma.
Have them take only the money that they need and make sure they know not to flash around what they do have. You don’t want temptation to get the best of someone and find your child with their money gone, or worse, hurt.
If your kids are old enough to shop by themselves, designate a meeting place such as the fountain in the center of the mall or a specific spot in the department store. Have a check-in where everyone meets, perhaps every half hour. This is even a good idea with the teens, too.
If for some reason you get separated from your child and they wander off or get lost, the first thing you need to do is contact the security for that store. Give them a complete description of your child, their clothing, name, etc. Then either you or someone you are with needs to stay in the area where they last were seen. Let the security and other family or friends start the search. It is important to stay in the area in case the child returns.
Also, teach your child that if they get lost to either find a mom with kids, a security officer, or a police officer. Play a game to practice identifying appropriate people. Make it fun so that if your child is lost, they won’t panic. Make sure they know to return to your designated spot.
Park your car in a well-lighted area, as close to the doors as possible. Always lock your car and keep valuables with you or covered up. When you leave, make sure that you are aware of your surroundings: Who is around? Is anyone sitting in a vehicle next to yours? Where are you parked? Most stores have security that would gladly have someone walk out with you if you feel you need the added protection.
When you get to your car check inside to make sure no one is hiding there. Check the exterior for the same thing. Carry your keys in your hand so that you are not standing there, fumbling around while someone approaches you.
These things may seem like simple common sense, but for some reason we forget the basics time and time again. In today’s world it is the simple rules that will help keep us and our children safe to enjoy the holidays. God bless your family and Happy Holidays to all.