40 Ways To Keep Wandering Children Safe
1. Holding hands
The quickest and easiest way to keep wandering children safe is to keep a tight grip on your little one. If your child is anything like mine, hand holding is great but it’s not enough.
Keep reading for more tips, tricks, and products that can help keep our little ones safe!
2. Notify Neighbors
After Levi ran away the fourth time, I met with my neighbors to discuss the situation. It’s a topic of conversation I bring up as often as I can. Not only have a told my adult neighbors, but I’ve also talked to the children that live around me too.
People don’t understand autism unless they know someone close to them that has autism. I love educating people and especially children.
Often, the kids in my neighborhood ask:
“Can Levi play with us?”
“Why doesn’t Levi say anything?”
I even had one sweet and confident boy say,
“My dad taught me how to talk. You need to teach him better.”
–I didn’t take any offense to that. I see questions and comments like that as a learning opportunity- no matter the age.
3. Create a visual schedule
Creating a visual schedule can help a child anticipate what is going to happen next.
A lot of autistic children struggle with transitions, like mine. Levi will try to run when we being new tasks. A visual schedule can help a child prepare for what comes next.
4. Have a family plan
It’s important to form a plan with your family just in case your child does run.
Who is running in which direction?
What places would your child go?
Who calls 911?
As hard as these questions are to answer– These are all questions that need to be discussed as a family. Having a plan set into place can make a huge difference if the worst were to happen.
Make a plan.
5. Go out in a group
It’s inevitable that you’ll have to go out into the world alone with your child but as often as you can- take someone with you that can help.
An extra set of hands and eyes can make a huge difference.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
6. “Stop and Go” Games
When Levi started running he didn’t understand what the word, “stop”.
We worked with therapist playing games where Levi and I would hold hands, say “GO”, run, and then say “STOP” while we stopped.
Use any opportunity you can to teach the word, “STOP”.
Sometimes when I’m walking with Levi, I’ll just randomly stop and verbalize the word, “STOP”. It can be a fun game that also teaches safety.
CoSleeping isn’t for everyone. I’m not suggesting that you change your current sleeping situation by putting this on my list.
Levi and I have been cosleeping since he was born (he’s four now). It’s our normal.
I’m a single mom who hasn’t really dated in five years. I had tried once to transition Levi into his own bed but after he started running I decided it was better to wait. I lock my bedroom door from the inside so he can’t sneak out of the room. I sleep a thousand times knowing Levi is right next to me.
I know if he was sleeping in his own room, I’d be up all night checking to make sure he’s still there.
8. Sensory Breaks
Children can be triggered by sensory overload and run.
This summer I took Levi to this outdoor craft festival and it was PACKED. Levi did really well at first but after a while, I could tell he needed a break. I took him around the back of a merchant tent where we were alone and things were quiet. We sat there for about thirty minutes decompressing. I think I enjoyed the break as much as he did. Large crowds make me uncomfortable too.
9. Plan short trips
As much as possible, try to keep short trips. If you normally do all your errands and shopping in one day- maybe break it up into two days.
A weighted vest won’t stop your child from running but it can help with sensory regulation as a whole if used regularly which can help decrease elopement risk.
11. Body sock
As with the weighted vest, a body sock won’t keep a child from running but it aids with sensory regulation. Preventive tools such as the weighted vest and body sock are great tools for children who are easily overwhelmed.
12. Kids Safety Ear Muffs
Noise-reducing ear muffs can keep a child calm in social situations that might overstimulate a child. Levi has these exact same ear muffs but he hates having things on his head sometimes so they don’t work for us right now but I keep trying. Maybe someday he’ll enjoy wearing these.
13. Familiarize your child with neighborhood
Take your child for walks around the neighborhood so they become familiar to the area. Take note of the places around your home that your child enjoys going to. If you child runs, you’ll know to check those places first.
STACKS, ON STACKS, ON STACKS
LOCKS, ON LOCKS, ON LOCKS
14. Swing Bar Door Lock
I have this same lock on my front and back door. I know Levi will eventually be able to reach up and unlock it but
15. Door Security Bar
I was confused by this picture when I first saw it but I saw that it’s mainly for sitting in the base of a sliding back door. This is
16. Hook Lock
I have hook locks on all of my doors inside my house. My little one is constantly trying to get into closets where he shouldn’t be. These are a cheap and quick fix to keep him from opening doors he doesn’t need to.
I don’t think these would work on a taller and older child but they work for my four-year-old now.
17. August Smart Lock Pro (Alexa)
18. August Smart Lock 3rd Generation
19. Keyed Hasp Lock
This lock is on my front door right now. I love how it needs a key to open.
My little one hasn’t learned how to pick locks (yet) so this is my favorite lock we have right now.
20. Steel Chain Door Guard
This is a classic and budget-friendly way to keep your doors safe and secure.
21.Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt
This touchscreen deadbolt lock connects with Alexa. It stores up to 30 different security codes, has an alarm, and allows you to lock or unlock your doors with your phone.
This product is amazing. It’s a portable door lock that requires ZERO tools. You can take it with you wherever you go to keep your child safe and secure.
BACKPACKS AND HARNESSES
25. Skip Hop Toddler Leash and Harness Backpack
26. Goldbug – Animal 2 in 1 Child Safety Harness
Blisstime Anti Lost Wrist Link Safety Wrist Link
28. Anti Lost Wrist Link with Harness
29. Hand Belt Band Wristband for Toddlers
ALARMS AND GPS TRACKERS
30. Safesound Personal Alarms
31. Mini GPS Tracker
32. Kids GPS Tracker Smartwatch
33. My Buddy Tag Wristband
34. Amcrest Portable Mini Real-Time GPS Tracker
35. Samber Micro Children GPS Tracker Necklace
36. Waterproof Kids Smart Watch GPS Tracker
37. Mini Portable Off-grid
Real Time GPS Tracking Device
38. Guardian Angel Tracker
39. Baba Spy Mini GPS
40. Custom Gates and Doors
I’m lucky enough to have a dad who is handy and great at building things. Each time Levi ran he made custom gates and doors to keep Levi safe. I know not everyone has a handyman in their life but if you do, ask them to help make your house more secure.
Hey, I'm Nicole
I'M A SINGLE MOM OF A LITTLE BOY WITH AUTISM. I SHARE WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT RAISING A SPECIAL CHILD WITH TIPS FOR SELF CARE AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT