Lost and found: Costa beach protocols to find wandering children

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AN AVERAGE of 10 children get lost on Costa del Sol beaches every day in the summer, leading most towns to put systems into place to help find them.
Although many parents are unaware of the systems, municipal protocols generally start with distribution of free identification wristbands, which children are encouraged to wear to help reunite them with their families as quickly as possible if they get lost.
Some, including Marbella where wristbands are handed out from 15 different stands, have taken extra steps to avoid data protection issues by creating a code system while other more old-fashioned systems use permanent ink to write the child’s name and parents’ contact details on the bands.
In Fuengirola, the council has put a loudspeaker system in place all along the beaches meaning announcements regarding lost children can be quickly transmitted.
Once parents realise they have lost sight of a youngster, lifeguards are informed who quickly spread details to colleagues in the area. Although 90 per cent of children are found within the first half hour, when this is not the case the police and Civil Protection are called in to search nearby streets and seafront promenades, although emergency services report it is rare for a child to leave the beach alone.
Searches are launched facing into the wind, as studies have found that children who are lost or distressed instinctively turn their faces to the breeze to try and calm themselves down, and one relative is encouraged to stay by their towels as many youngsters, especially older ones, try to find their way back.
The authorities recommend parents make use of the free wristbands on offer and that a meeting point is agreed upon before reaching the beach just in case.

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