5 Things to Help Keep Your (Bolting) Child Safe

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– this is a re-post. Moxie slipped out of the back door at my brother’s house and we found her laughing by the woodpile. She didn’t have her shoes on and we didn’t have the GPS ladybug. This is as much a reminder to ourselves as it is a hope to help you.


Child Safety:

I’d like to be able to just let my kids roam freely. But my daughter Moxie figured out a way to escape recently. She took her brother’s stool, put it under the door, unlocked the slide lock turned the handle, walked down the flight of stairs and slipped under the gate to go and wander the street.

After that I heart attack, I wrote this post, you all came through and gave me a ton of helpful links and suggestions. I coupled those up with the few things I have found to be successful in keeping my children safer.

Bolting or running away is evidently very common with kids with Down syndrome. This list is probably handy even if your kid doesn’t have Down syndrome or a disability; many of these I’ll be using (or have used) with my typically-developing sons (aged 5 years and 6 months).

Here are the tips:

1. GPS tracking device.

I really like this option, personally. There are a lot of variations on the same theme – attach something to your child and an alarm will blare when they have gone beyond a set distance from you.

a. The Guardian Angel for 4 Kid’s Tracker Child Children Locator Alarm Family Protection Security Babysitter has these little ladybug things that you can attach on each child – great for families like us that have more than one child and get out/travel  a lot.

(they also seem to come with just one ladybug, for families with a singleton)


b. The Amber Alert GPS Child Locator Tracking Device looks like it’s excellent.It’s fully tricked out:

  • SOS Button: Be notified immediately if your child needs help. If your child is in a dangerous or threatening situation, or has a medical emergency, he/she can press the SOS button. The device will then send an “SOS” email and/or text with your child’s location to you and those trusted individuals you designate to receive SOS Alerts.
  • 2 Way Voice: Speak directly to your child anytime – or have them call you. Simply call the device to listen in to the surroundings of your child and be assured that they are okay. By pressing the voice button, your child can call you so that you can listen in.
  • Customized Zones: Want to know when your child arrives or leaves school, home or soccer practice? With the Amber Alert GPS device, you define a virtual boundary or zone around anywhere you choose. You then receive an alert, via email and/or text, when your child enters or exits a zone.
  • Predator Alerts: Amber Alert GPS is synced with the National Sex Offender Registry and updated every 24 hours. With the Amber Alert GPS device, you are notified when your child or teen gets within 500 feet of a registered sex offenders residence.
  • Additional Features include: Locate Via Computer & App, Breadcrumbing, Speed Alert, and Low Battery Alert.

 NOTE: there is some kind of promotion going on now with Amber Alert – free device with signing up for 3 year contract ($14.99/month)

AmberAlert seems like a pricey but good way to go – they ranked #3 for Best GPS Tracker (here’s the review).

ADDITIONAL NOTE: check in with your local Sheriff’s Office and/or County Office: word is that some offices have Amber Alert/GPS device programs for kids. I’m currently in the process of checking with mine, so I don’t have any advice yet for local friends.

c. The PGD PG66-G Real-time Silicone Gel GPS Tracking Watch Quad-band Watch 1.3″ TFT Touch Screen 1.3MPx Camera Security with SOS Function for Eldder/Kids/Criminal/Pet (Black) seems like a good deal for boys – I think it looks huge and would fall off of dainty little Moxie’s wrist. But it looks perfect for Micah. It’s $100 and it doesn’t seem to need a subscription service.

I’m still looking for something like this that is a better fit for Moxie.

2. ID Bracelets:

According to the Police, only phone numbers, not names should be listed. This makes sense, but it does put families like us at a quandry. I suppose since we will have different phone numbers at each country along the PanAm, we will just need to make a new ID bracelet for Moxie (and it won’t hurt to make one for the boys too) at each country.

a. The Ankle ID: I liked this one a lot . It’s great because it goes on the ankle and looks like it will pack a lot of information on that little plate.

b. Jewelry-type ID Bracelets: personally, these seem like a way to go with someone like Moxie. She likes that kind of thing and as long as it fits and the metal doesn’t make her skin react, it seems like a great long-term option.


NOTE: Maybe I’m totally off here but those velcro bracelet options just seem dumb. Kids will open those suckers up in two seconds.

3. Sound Alerts:

a. Door Alarms: A lot of people seem to use these. It’s simple: the alarm goes off when the door is opened. You can program them and get them to stop/go. They are inexpensive and seem to be easy to install. For other deaf folk, I’m pretty sure there is a flashing lights version – check with your local Deaf resource center (Bay Area folk, that’s DCARA)

shoes b. Squeaker shoes: This is something really simple, but if you can hear the high pitch from the squeak and if your child is wearing these, you’ll be able to have an idea of where your child is. We bought Moxie’s squeaker boots from zulily.com – zulily has great quality shoes (featured nearly daily) for around $20 that have removable squeakers.

c. Jingly jewelry: I personally like this option for my child as – like the squeaker shoes – it meshes easily with what she likes and finds attractive, and with my hearing aids on, I can hear them. They are like cute cowbells, I guess. But whatever. It works. I know where she is and that’s what counts.

4. Barriers

For the truly savvy kid (read: YOUR KID), gates aren’t likely to be anything more than a hurdle. It’s going to slow them down but not stop them. Still, when you are dealing with kids as fast as ours, a hurdle is still a desirable thing, right? There are a ton of gates out there, here are 3 types that caught my eye as they seem travel-ready or come highly recommended:

a. Extra Tall Gates: My friend sent me this link to some gates that she said were great with her child. They look super.

b. Tension Mounted Anywhere Gates: These are what I went for as I need to have something that we can bring with us. I need portable, something that doesn’t need to be installed with a screwdriver.

c. Driveway Safety Net: This is great because while they will NOT stop our kids from going, they serve as a bright visual reminder of how far to go. Easy to install, portable. These are definitely going with us on the Pan Am.


Deadbolts: This seemed really extreme to me until Moxie, my just-turned 3 year old daughter, figured out how work the slide lock on the back door – yeah, the one she had to drag a stool to and still reach up to finagle.

If you have a child with a propensity to escape, GET ONE NOW.

There are hundreds out there to choose from; this is just one that came recommended by a friend.


5. While Out: Simple Solutions

a. Monkey on Their Backs: Harnesses: I know, I know. Putting putting what is in essence a leash on your kid isn’t attractive and makes you feel like the crunchy Berkeley parents are going to spit on you and call CPS. But what’s better – that or calling the Police yourself because your kid ran too fast through legs in a crowd and you lost her?

 NOTE: I only got Moxie to wear this after a lot of effort. Wearing it around the house, having her big brother (and superstar) wearing it to help out (= make it desirable).

b. High-Visibility Clothes. Like a neon-pink vest or neon-green shirts. If you have more than one child, getting them to wear the same colour would be a good idea – then you just have to keep your eye on the kids in green or pink or yellow or whatever.

– Did I miss anything? Please tell me in the comments what works for you that I left out here – thanks!



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is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E). She likes her coffee black and hot.


  1. We have a 5 yr old runner, he started at 2. High locks, door alarms, and a lock on the sliding glass door that is clear and folds up. It has a tiny pin like a wire that you have to pull to release it, and his poor fine motor skills made that one a great one. He climbs everything, and loves to go off. We got a shepherd to help be hisbuddy. He doesn’t stop him though, but he does help us know which direction to look. It is a huge challenge. I’m frustrated by the costs of some of these systems.

    • I’m frustrated too, Tami. I feel like there should be some sort of program for parents of bolters – kids that really just shoot off and it’s unsafe. A lending library, or something under the sheriff’s umbrella.

  2. I have Squeaker Sneekers for my two year old…best ever! We used them to help motivate her to walk, but I realized right away that they would help keep her close to me! Great article!

  3. All these thoughts are great, wish they had a lot of these 20 years ago when my son Fox was little. One Halloween, I dressed him as a puppy to go with the “baby lease” that was popular then. I can tell you, he could’ve easily pulled me along in my chair by himself.

    But to share the laugh, when I read the title on google plus my mind thought of my son and I said “Duck Tape?”

  4. My 5 year old is essentially non-verbal. She doesn’t bolt from me but has walked out of her classroom at school. (I should say her PREVIOUS school.) After that, I took her picture to the local police station. I put her name, my name, our address, and my phone numbers on it. That way, if she ever does get lost, they will know who she is and where she belongs. And they can get that info to other stations if she gets lost somewhere else.

  5. Hi, My name is Sandy and my little treasure is named Abigail! I do have a couple other suggestions that worked GREAT until she of course mastered them (as will yours ;o)
    An alternative to a harness was an item I found years before Abbie was born. At the time it was called a Hand-Helper. It simply went around the adults wrist with a Velcro bracelet, had a ‘springy’ cord (like old phone cords) and a bracelet for the kiddo on the other end. It gave her freedom, kept her safe and felt less like a leash (therefore got fewer scowl’s from the general public who have NO clue about the bolting-skills of OUR kiddos)!
    The other is a different type of flip latch for (my) front door. It’s different because it has a spring on the inside therefore in order to open (I’ll try to locate a brand name). The persons hand must be able to grip, pull to the right, then pull forward. Abbie’s hands were too small and not strong enough unto she was about 11 years old. Then one day her older brother (grrr…22 year old) came to the door and encouraged her to open it so she got a stool and finally had the strength to manipulate it!….But it did give us 10 years of peace ;o)

  6. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for these suggestions. I have been seriously stressed and overwhelmed with my 4 year old darting off in parking lots and figuring out all of the locks on the gates and doors. I am appreciative! Thank you!

    • you bet – that is really nerve-wracking. I might also suggest a guide dog too, actually. Most all kids with disabilities qualify for one. My own hearing dog stays with Moxie almost all the time, and this is an enormous relief for me, as I know she’s safe. Not that I want her roaming out by herself – it can be really dangerous what with the mountain lions, bears and snakes. But at least I know she’s with Kianna.

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