Imagine sending your kid off to school and her never making it there—or home. That’s what happened in a Colorado town three years ago when 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted and murdered. This tragic event inspired community members to launch Lassy Project, a free app that helps find lost kids more quickly.
When you see the staggering stats, it’s no wonder people wanted to help: In 2014, more than 466,000 kids were reported missing. And the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate children and bring them home. To speed up the process, Lassy allows users to notify neighbors and local friends and family of a lost kid within seconds. A message, including a photo of the child and the exact location where he or she was last spotted, gets sent to this “Lassy Village." Those contacted can then let the parents know if they're with the child (many missing persons cases are a result of miscommunication) or can assist in the search. This helps parents realize when a situation is more serious so they can inform police and get an Amber Alert out faster.
So download the app, fill out your kid’s profile and, to avoid actually having to use it, take note of these three safety strategies, courtesy of John Guydon, CEO and cofounder of the Lassy Project and father of two.
Get organized. It’s normal to have the wrong time written down for an event or mix up the days when activities are scheduled, especially when your family’s calendar gets crazy. But if you have a more orderly approach to booking appointments and playdates—like going over the weekly schedule as a family or keeping a calendar where everyone can see it—you’re less likely to get confused about where your kid is and whether you need to worry.
Create a system of checks and balances. For even more reminders and confirmation of your child’s locale, make sure you have a system for checking in. Maybe that’s a simple text when your daughter arrives at school or a phone call as soon as soccer practice ends and your son heads home. Just go over it with your kids so you're all on the same page.
Time it right. “If a child goes missing, the time it takes to discover that could be the difference between life and death,” says Guydon. So make sure you know how long it takes for your kids to get to school, to a friend’s house and to sporting events. That way, you’ll know something is up if they haven’t reached their destination within that time frame. Lassy also has a tool that makes this a cinch: Simply enter the routes your kid takes most often, plug in when she's on her way and it'll inform you if she veers too far off the path. It’ll also ping you when she arrives at her destination.