I know I just recently posted about a bad dream I had but yet again I have another topic that we really don’t want to think about. Just recently a story made the news in our area about a young child who had wandered out and the result was a tragedy.
The babysitter had fallen asleep and the little one wandered out the door without her knowing. In our area we have a lot of retention ponds as we have a lot of wet areas and when it rains the extra water needs somewhere to go. Many of these ponds are fenced in but there are many that are not.
This little guy somehow managed to find his way to a pond that wasn’t fenced in and he fell in. No one knew he was missing until it was too late. A family has lost something that can never be replaced and a whole community is grieving.
The news has countless stories of children who have wandered away from home. Sometimes they are searching for days before they find them. Other times they never find them at all and the searches are called off. For every happy ending, it seems that there are a few with tragic endings.
I know how hard it is when you have young ones. They love to explore and they love to be outside. Even older children love these things too but generally, they have been taught some safety rules. Then you some of the special needs children, like one of mine, who are drawn to the water. They will do anything to get to the water and all they can think about is how much it is to play in the water. It can be very challenging to help them overcome their urges.
My special needs son was also a wanderer. I have heard pre-adoption stories of when he had wandered from home without anyone knowing. He had been picked up by neighbors and the police on several occasions. Many times he was quite a ways from home. His limited vocabulary and difficult speech often made it hard for people to understand but he was usually able to point the way home. These stories make cringe and cause me to break out in goosebumps because I know how badly these events could have ended. He had a guardian angel looking out for him.
When he came to live with me I realized we needed some kind of system as he was constantly getting up and wandering through the house. He never went out but he did get into the refrigerator and made himself a ham & cheese with horseradish sandwich one night. Another night he got up and decorated all of the Thanksgiving pies with blue icing. We installed some extra locks higher up on the doors which helped to keep him in the house but he still got into things from time to time as he didn’t, and still doesn’t, sleep very much.
When one of his other little sisters came to live with us I really had a scare. She is also special needs but she was very set against staying with anyone other than her biological mother in the beginning. One day while cleaning I found a book bag that she had packed as she had planned to run away. I knew I had to do something immediately.
That day I went to town on a mission and I picked up some cheap door alarms to install on the entry doors as well as the windows where he would possibly be at. (The link I provided is for Amazon but you can also find them at your local Dollar Tree at times.) I keep a supply of these on hand for when the batteries run out or they get damaged in some way.
Some of the ones I have found have a two-way system which is a high-pitched alarm or off feature. The others I have found have a three-way system which also includes a chime feature. I have the three-way devices on the front entry and the two-ways on his bedroom door, window, and the back door as it leads out to the dock.
You can also buy more expensive ones but for us, we have found that the cheaper ones work fine for now. I try to test them regularly as well to make sure that they haven’t been tampered with or that batteries haven’t died.
Once they are switched on they will notify you if the door or window is opened even the slightest bit. These have been a lifesaver as I didn’t get a lot of sleep for those first few weeks that he was with us. When we moved to this little house on the pond I already had these installed so that there would be a little bit of peace of mind. We have also gone over a lot of water safety talks as we live right on the water.
I hope someone might find this solution helpful. I could see this working for older family members as well. The two important things are to test them often and to make sure that you turn them on as needed. I keep the window alarm and the back door alarm on at all times. The front door will usually have the chime on and sometimes if I know I need a nap I will put on the alarm feature. The bedroom door alarm will also be turned on if I am napping when the kids are down for a quiet time and at bedtime so there is no sneaking out. There is no way I could sleep through these alarms at all.
Have a wonderful week and stay safe!
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