I remember, as a little boy, getting lost from my parents.
It wasn’t their fault – they were responsible and careful parents. It was entirely my fault (inasmuch as a 5 yr old or thereabouts can be held responsible for such things, of course). We were at a crowded ‘open day’ at New Zealand’s main navy base, and I wanted to go up to the open bridge of the cruiser. Everyone was crowded and so I ‘knew’ that I’d be able to find my parents again, right where I left them. So I went off and up to the bridge, and lost track of time, and the next thing I knew, there was my father beside me, looking extremely worried (and more than a little cross!).
I almost lost my daughter at a local shopping mall once, too – and again it wasn’t so much me being irresponsible as it was simply ‘one of those things’ that sometimes happens. We were walking through JC Penny’s and I paused for a couple of seconds to look at a shirt on a rack. I let go of Anna’s hand to reach for the shirt, and when I went to take her hand again, seconds later, it had gone. She had decided to play ‘hide and seek’ with me on an impromptu basis, and had dashed off to hide, in among the racks that hid her from view, somewhere in JC Penny’s. It was a three level store, with doors opening out to the street, the car park, and the mall, and an instantly nightmarish situation for me. The only thing that enabled me to find the naughty three-year-old, as she then was, were the peals of wicked and joyous laughter as she ran about, having the time of her life.
My experiences, as both loser and losee, are far from unique. A 2006 study suggests that 90% of families will experience losing a child in a public place.
So one’s focus needs to be on prevention, for sure; but as both my examples indicate, sometimes a loss event is almost inevitable, for reasons beyond the parents’ control. In which case, and where prevention fails, one then needs to come up with a ‘cure’ for the lost child (or, of course, grandchild too).
So, with that as introduction, may I now introduce you to Safetytat.
A Way to Find Your Lost Child
There are many ways in which you can help a young pre-schooler be returned to you, of course. The easiest is to have a piece of paper in a pocket or safety-pinned to their clothing with your contact details on it. But these types of solutions are vulnerable to failure. If the piece of paper falls off or out, what does the child then have? Precious little.
Other people like using bands of Tyvek type material that fasten around a child’s wrist. These are less comfortable for the child to wear and more in the way, but can be a very secure way of staying on the child (assuming it doesn’t slip off the wrist if left too loose).
A recent product that comes up with a simple, easy and affordable solution is Safetytat. It is a type of transfer/sticker that you simply stick to your child’s arm and write your phone number on. It is designed to be colorful and attractive so your child likes it, and it has long-lasting adhesive said to be good for up to two weeks (although in practice, probably not nearly that long).
Unlike the wristbands, the Safetytat is unobtrusive and convenient/comfortable to wear. It measures approx 3″ x 1″.
The Safetytats come in a kit with six stickers, six cleaning swabs, and a permanent marker (similar to a mini Sharpie type marker). Everything you need is in the kit.
A pack with the six stickers and other required equipment lists for $10; a pack with 18 lists for $20. They come with various different themed designs – eg, for boys, for girls, and for aliens (well, with alien images on them, anyway – no word on how well they actually stick to alien flesh).
If you buy them on Amazon, you don’t get any discount, but you do get free shipping if you’re a Prime member.
In addition to the generic Safetytat stickers, you can also create custom designs on the SafetyTat website and have them especially printed for you. It is even possible to have the stickers with a QR code printed on them.
Testing the Safetytat
Although my eight year old daughter, Anna, is probably now too old to need a Safetytat, she agreed to be a testing guinea pig and happily allowed one to be affixed to her arm. She found the application of the alcohol cleansing pad prior to sticking the sticker to be ticklish and funny, but that wasn’t a big problem.
It was easy to stick to her arm, and relatively easy to write a phone number on the sticker after it had been affixed.
It was placed on her arm on Sunday evening. Sometime Wednesday night it fell off while she was asleep in bed – so just a bit over 80 hrs later. During that time she had two showers and also an hour or so of swimming in a chlorinated heated pool.
There was no sign of any irritation or discomfort, and apparently taking it off again is very easy! Anna said she was aware of it being on her arm at night while lying in bed and going to sleep, and my sense is that she probably picked at it a bit in bed, accelerating the rate at which it came unstuck.
Part of the reason the stickers are generally comfortable and stay securely on is probably because they are made from an elastic flexible material, so they conform to the child’s skin and stretch as the skin may also stretch.
So while the stickers might indeed have a two-week adhesive life ‘in a perfect world’, in the real world, with the child occasionally playing and picking at them, three or four days seems a more realistic life.
The key thing to look for is whether the sticker is still fully stuck onto your child’s arm. Once it starts to work even slightly loose, the loss of adhesion fairly rapidly travels along the rest of the sticker’s length. But if it shows as still fully or 95% fully stuck on, you are probably good for the day ahead.
During the time the sticker was on Anna’s arm, the phone number remained clearly inked onto it.
What Not to Provide as Contact Information
You might be tempted to write an entire biography about your child as part of whatever contact details you are providing with them. This is actually not a good idea. All you should write is your phone number. You might want to think about having a Google Voice phone number to use – one which will ring at your home and cell phone (and your spouse’s cell phone) all simultaneously to ensure any calls are immediately answered by one of you.
Don’t write your child’s name down, or any other details. That way, strangers can’t win the child’s trust and confidence. There is a world of difference between a stranger saying ‘Hello little girl, who are you?’ and a stranger saying ‘Hello Bobby, I’m a friend of your mummy, Susan. She said you should come with me.’
All you need to show is a contact phone number. That’s all a person needs to know. Anything else may have unintended negative consequences.
Safetytat stickers are a simple but effective way to help your lost child (or grandchild) be returned to you. All your child needs to know is to show their Safetytat sticker to any responsible adult, and all you need to do is to make sure the phone number you wrote on it will be answered by you or someone in your family when it is called.
At $10 for six or $20 for 18, they are not outrageously priced, and with a probable life of 3 or 4 days per sticker, you’re paying less than $1 per child per day for peace of mind on occasions when you’re traveling to ‘high risk of separation’ areas such as amusement parks and other vacation areas.
Recommended, either for you and your children, or as a gift to people you know with young children.