There’s no scarier feeling for a parent than being unable to find your child. Little kids can slip out of sight rather easily, and most of the time they’re quickly found nearby. If you really cannot locate your child, you have to take action immediately. It’s imperative that you know what to do, because it could save your child’s life. There’s no way you can truly prepare yourself for the feeling that your child is missing, but there are steps you should know to take if it does happen. Here is what to do if your child becomes lost.
Your first reaction might be to panic, but you have to stay calm. If you panic when your child goes missing, you will be less able to handle the situation effectively. Try to breathe, stay calm, and remind yourself not to panic. Reassure yourself that you know what to do to find your child.
If you’re at home, first check the entire house for your child. Sometimes a game of hide-and-go-seek can go awry, and little kids have an uncanny knack for finding good hiding places. Check all closets, cabinets, vehicles, laundry baskets, and absolutely every corner or small space that a child could fit into (there are more than you’d think). It’s important that you do this before involving the authorities. Most of the time when parents think their children are missing, they’re really in the house somewhere.
If you’re in a store, at an amusement park, or anywhere in public, notify the nearest employee or security guard as soon as you discover your child is missing. In this case, you should do a quick search of the immediate area, but do not spend a lot of time checking every corner of the store. The employees will be able to help you, and they often have set protocol for these situations.
Call the Police
After you’ve looked everywhere at home, or after you’ve notified employees in public, call the police. If you still cannot find your child, you want to get local law enforcement involved as soon as possible, because time is of the essence. You should tell the police when and where you last saw your child, and give them as accurate a description as possible, including your child’s height, weight, hair color, eye color, distinguishing features, and what clothing they were wearing.
Get More Help
You should also ask the police to immediately register your child with the National Crime Information Center Missing Person File. You can also call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST. Be sure to cooperate with all police and officials.
You should follow the instructions of police during the search for your child, and you should try to stay as active as possible, because no parent wants to sit and wait while their child is out there somewhere. Call friends and relatives, check local hangouts, and create and distribute flyers.