The following was originally posted on Rob Gorski’s LostandTired.com blog.
With all the things in the news lately about Autistic children wandering away, I though it was very important to get this message out. I have been talking with Jeremy Warnick, Corporate Communications Manger at SafetyNet. I truly believe in addressing this problem this is a great way to do it. As you know, I don’t often open my blog to outside posters but this is something I think we all need to take VERY seriously. I appreciate the opportunity to work with SafetyNet to help spread this very important message.
Please share this post so we can get the word out. SafetyNet is giving away 1,500 devices and 6 months of free service. This is a pretty big deal.
PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Kathy Kelleher, SafetyNet
With back to school time upon us, the routine many families have established over the past couple of months is likely going to change. And for children with autism, sometimes it’s changes like this that may elicit anxiety and stress resulting in the child bolting or wandering.
No parent wakes up thinking, “today is the day my child is going to wander and become lost.” September is National Preparedness Month. So why not take the time now to prepare for the unexpected? We’ve put together some ideas that can get you started. Please feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments section.
A great place to start is the AWAARE Collaboration at www.awaare.org. AWAARE stands for Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education. It’s there where you can find the Family Wandering Emergency Plan (http://www.awaare.org/docs/FWEP.pdf ). It’s a two page form you should keep in a location that is handy in the event of a wandering or emergency. Remember, if you notice your child is missing, call 911 immediately. It seems obvious, but some may think, “oh, I’ll go find him upstairs or in the basement or at my neighbor’s house.” Meanwhile you’ve had no luck and more time has passed. Public safety departments would rather be en route to the last place your child was seen and then called back saying he has been found, rather than be called 30 minutes or later after you noticed he was missing. Every moment counts in this type of situation.
The Family Wandering Emergency Plan goes through the steps of what to say when you call 911. This is especially a good idea when the person calling may be panic-stricken or nervous. The Emergency Plan also lists critical information about your child and his diagnosis.
Something else to consider – creating an emergency contact point person who can contact neighbors and make arrangements for your other children and pets, while you are assisting the public safety officials in their search and rescue efforts.
Our SafetyNet website (www.safetynetbytracking.com) has great resources as well. Wandering resources such as Neighbor and First Responder Forms are available. The neighbor forms should be filled out in advance of any emergency and shared with your neighbors to provide them with current information, even a photo, about your loved one so that they can help you if/when the time arises. And the First Responder Forms provides information about your loved one for the authorities in your town to keep on file.
There is also a tip sheet – 10 Ways to Help Protect Your Child from the Dangers of Wandering. I’m sure you are already practicing many of these, but perhaps there is something there you haven’t thought of yet?
At SafetyNet, we do recommend that you consider a personal tracking device. Do your homework. There are many different products on the market now. Research them and find which one is best for your situation. What I can tell you about the SafetyNet Service is that it is ideal for people at risk of wandering because it uses Radio Frequency (RF) technology, which has strong signals that can penetrate many physical obstructions. With an RF device, your child can be found in places that a GPS or cellular device cannot reach, such as a wooded area or concrete building. Think of the weather conditions where you live. If your child wandered during the winter, and ended up taking shelter in a building or garage down the street, that signal would still get picked up the law enforcement officers specifically trained to find it.
Now would be the perfect time to try the SafetyNet Service! Recently, they announced the launch of the “SafetyNet Race to Keep Safe” program, in which 1,500 caregivers and/or families will receive free SafetyNet personal tracking devices for six months! “Race to Keep Safe” runs today through September 30th October 15th, 2011 (or while supplies last). Please visit www.safetynettracking.com or call 1-877-434-6384 about this wonderful opportunity. You can also find us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/safetynetsource.
Thanks for your time and best of luck with any transitions that you may be involved with this fall.
- Lost and Tired