When UK mum and journalist Christy Curtis’ 3-year-old son Merry wandered off at the shops one day, his safe (and speedy) return sparked a bright idea that will help keep all kids safe when they’re out and about.
Lost and found
Christy was quickly reunited with Merry, but the scary experience – one that many parents will find familiar – got her thinking.
“Embarrassingly I lost sight of Merry, then 3, in a busy department store. After the worst 10 minutes of my life (he was sitting merrily playing with something that had caught his eye), I wondered why I ever went out without putting my phone number on him somewhere. Even if someone had found him, they had no way of letting me know,” Christy told Connect Mums earlier this year.
Christy’s thinking cap revealed the challenge of keeping wandering toddlers and preschoolers safe – and the difficulty of devising a workable one-size-fits-all plan if kids do get separated from parents or carers.
‘You hear parents telling their children to stay where they are if they get lost or give them a meeting place, but kids get scared when all they can see is a sea of legs and they panic,’ Christy told Femail. ‘They also may have forgotten the place you told them to meet you if they did get lost, or could be too young to understand.”
This clever mum came up with a much better and pretty much fail-safe plan, and a couple of years later she’s marketing an excellent solution.
It’s called Kidstrapp and it’s a very low-cost (around $5 AUD for a pack of 3) wristband/smartphone app combo that helps identify wandering children – and easily reunite them with parents.
Identify and reunite
Kidstrapp “wanted to take the worry out of days out for parents and young children. They feel it is vital that their children should never go anywhere without some form of identification and if the worst does happen, they get separated, then they can be quickly reunited with their loved ones.”
Each barcoded Kidstrapp wristband is registered in a database – with several contact detail options and even allergy information linked to it. Also printed on the band are instructions on how to access all the wristband’s details – and there’s space for parents to write a phone number too.
The finder of a wandering wristband-wearing child calls the number on the band, or downloads the Kidstrapp app and scans the barcode to instantly contact the child’s parents or carer.
The idea is to have multiple methods to reunite parent and child, so that if one fails, there are other contact details logged.
“Often the phone number will be enough, but after a busy day, it may no longer be legible. Similarly, a parent’s battery may be flat, they may be in an area of poor signal or they may be on the phone themselves reporting the missing child,” Kidstrapp says.
Once the barcode is scanned, an alert will show on the parent’s phone – and the finder and parent are now connected. A meeting point can be set up to reunite the separated parties, give hugs/thanks and wipe tears away. In the event that the phone is out of action, there are other contact details loaded, so the finder can try the next person on the list.
Kidstrapp can be used anywhere in the world, with the proviso that contact phone numbers are correctly formatted. Note that Kidstrapp is an identification and communication product – not a GPS tracking device.
“Never stop exploring”
Christy says she hopes her invention will speedily reunite kids with their parents and take the pressure of law enforcement. She also feels Kidstrapp is a perfect, contemporary extension of the ‘it takes a village’ concept, albeit a high-tech one.
“With so many rural police stations closing down and resources stretched to the max, I am hoping Kidstrapp will empower us all to help one another and to help look after other people’s families in their brief moments of need.”
“That’s what being a mum is about to me, not just looking after my children but looking out for others’ if they find themselves lost or vulnerable,” Christy said.
We could not agree more! Ace work, Christy!