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Part of our job as parents is to keep our children safe. But, if your child slipped away and couldn’t be found, would you have the identification information ready to hand to authorities?
Lord help us – I pray you never need it – but prepare a DIY child safety kit… just in case.
I was standing over the stove cooking dinner when the thought crossed my mind, “I don’t know where she is.”
My six year old was playing… somewhere. I had no clue where.
As I shrugged off the chill that crept up my spine, I told myself not to be silly. She was probably next door at our neighbor’s home with her best friend. I needed to cook dinner.
Then came a knock on my front door. Our neighbor was asking if his daughter was at our house. I laughed at him, “No. They are at your house!”
The look on his face made my mind rush back to the chill I shook off.
Turning off the stove because dinner no longer mattered, my husband and I dashed out the front door calling for our daughter and her friend at the top of our lungs.
We checked the van even though they have been taught NOT to play in a car.
Not a trace.
I began going to all of our neighbors where the girls sometimes play and asking if they were inside.
No one had seen them.
Just as I was about to bolt up the street screaming for the girls like a crazed banshee, my neighbor suggested that he check his house one more time.
There, tucked away in a bedroom with the door closed, our daughters were playing quietly and happy as can be.
But the indescribable fear that had come over me as I ran up the street calling my child’s name…
The knot in my stomach caused by the fact that I didn’t know where she was…
The panic that choked me because I was out of control of the situation…
I will never be caught unprepared again.
After publishing the Child Safety Kit Review, I heard from a lot of readers about how they were uncomfortable allowing someone to come into their home to show how to use the free child safe kit… not to mention trying to sell you something.
I don’t blame you!
We should be able to keep our children safe without having a stranger come into our homes to gather our personal information. That just seems counterintuitive.
What if we can create our own child identification kit?
I spent a lot of time searching what is in a child safety kit and decided that I was smart enough to do this myself.
Creating a Child Safety Kit
The purpose of a child safety kit is to have the information gathered (as a precaution) to give law enforcement officials should your child – GOD FORBID – ever go missing.
You will need:
- pen for recording information
- printable Child Identification Information sheet
- 3 to 4 cotton swabs with one end removed
- inkless fingerprint pad (available at Amazon)
- nail clippers
- isopropyl alcohol (for cleaning nail clippers)
- 5 small envelopes
- 1 larger envelope
- flash drive, optional
- scale (or child’s current weight)
- measuring tape (or child’s current height)
- stapler (do not lick the envelopes to close)
Once your supplies are gathered, write your child’s name on each envelope.
Now you are ready to record and collect the necessary elements of your DIY child safety kit.
What’s in a Child Safety Kit?
The basics of a child identification kit include:
- A picture of your child
- DNA samples
- Detailed information about your child
- Your contact information
I will break down each part to help you put together a comprehensive and accurate child safe kit.
A picture of your child
Chances are good that you have a dozen pictures on your phone of your child. If not, take a candid photo of your child. A formal portrait is not necessary as officials need to know what you child looks like on a normal day.
Print a copy of the picture and set it aside to go into your DIY child safety kit.
Getting DNA samples from your child might seem… creepy. It does for me too! I don’t even want to think about WHY they might be needed. But to be complete, your child identification kit should include ways for the authorities to trace your child’s DNA.
Because of the inaccuracy of home DNA collection, I recommend you collect three types of samples:
- Nail clippings
- Cheek cells
Before collecting the samples, have FIVE envelopes prepared with your child’s name.
When collecting hair, the strands should be pulled so that they include parts of the follicle and not hair that snaps off naturally.
If the thought of pulling several hairs from your child’s head seems cruel or you have a child like mine who is extremely sensitive to having her hair combed, you can collect hair from a clean hairbrush. Please realize that this might NOT be test-worthy if the strands do not include follicle tissue.
Start with a clean hairbrush. Brush your child’s hair throughly. Then, remove the hair from the brush and place directly into an envelope.
Do not over-handle the hair. Also, avoid contaminating the sample by placing it into the envelope immediately instead of setting it on another surface.
When finished, STAPLE the envelope closed. Do not lick the envelope to avoid contaminating the sample.
Growing evidence supports using nail clippings for DNA testing since the quality of the sample lasts longer at room temperature than most other types of DNA samples. However, not all law enforcement agencies have the ability to use nail clippings for DNA identification.
To collect the nail clippings, clean your nail clippers completely and sterilize by rubbing with isopropyl alcohol. Allow the clippers to dry completely. Then, trim your child’s nails as you normally would but allow the clippings to fall into an envelope. Do not handle the clippings with your hands.
Once done, staple the envelope closed.
This is the most invasive form of DNA collection but also one of the most reliable.
Just keep in mind these important tips:
- Do not touch the cotton end of the swab EVER.
- Cutting one end from the cotton swab will help you remember which end you used for the sample.
- Use clean swabs directly from the box.
- Do not place the swabs to rest on a surface.
- Swabs should always be kept with the cotton side up, not touching anything else.
- Each completed sample should be kept in a different envelope.
You will collect three cheek cell samples but have a fourth cotton swab available just in case of an accident.
To collect the sample, have your child rinse his/her mouth with water.
Next, run the cotton end of the swab along the inside cheek of your child’s mouth as well as the gum area and behind the lips in front of the teeth. You are collecting cells and not saliva. [More detailed instructions.]
Allow the swab to dry for 24 hours before placing in an envelope and stapling closed. Remember that the swab should be kept with the cotton end up as it dries, not touching anything else.
TIP: Use a very shallow container with a waded piece of paper or cotton in the bottom to keep the swabs from slipping.
Once all the cheek cell samples are dry and placed in individual envelopes, you can add all of the DNA samples to the larger envelope that will store your DIY child safe kit.
Detailed information about your child
For your convenience, I created a Child Identification Information sheet that you can print and complete. All of the information, as much detail as you can give, will help authorities find and care for your child as they try to return him/her home.
The only information on the Child Identification Information sheet that I would suggest is optional would be the social security number.
Pay close attention to the special needs and sensitivities section. If your child has any allergies, sensory issues, exaggerated fears of authority figures, rebellious behaviors, etc. place those in this section. Use the back if necessary.
Try to imagine how your child might react if scared and separated from you as you consider how to complete this section.
Also be mindful of any medications you child might need to take while in the custody of the authorities and list those with name, measurement, and medication schedule.
Again, I don’t want to think too hard about why this might be needed, but completing the body map section will help identify your child should they be found but unresponsive.
Place any birthmarks, previously broken bones, scars, or medical devices on the body map. If additional description/details are needed, place those on the back of the sheet.
When taking your child’s fingerprints, it is best to use an inkless thumbprint pad.
Press your child’s finger against the thumbprint pad and then against the paper. DO NOT roll your child’s finger as this can cause the fingerprint to smudge or be unclear.
I recommend labeling which finger is placed in each box (thumb, index, etc.)
Storing your Child Safe Kit
Once you have compiled the picture of your child, information worksheet, and DNA samples, place the worksheet and envelopes containing the hair, nails, and cotton swabs into a larger envelope.
You can also digitize the worksheet and your child’s picture using a PDF scanning application. Then, save these files to a flash drive. If you have access to your child’s medical information, dental records, or special needs details from a doctor, include those files too.
Store the flash drive in the larger envelope.
Label this envelope with your child’s name, date of birth, and your contact information.
Then, place the closed envelope with your other important documents and files so it is in a location where it is natural for you to look.
My heart’s cry is that NONE OF US would ever need to use these Child Safety Kits. That one day we will find them in the file box of important papers and laugh at our overly cautious parenting.
But we cannot be unprepared for the unthinkable.