July 3, 2006 — -- Lorna Greenhalgh was left reeling after she nearly lost her daughter at an amusement park. The separation lasted just a little while, but the fear of losing her child has permanently changed the way Greenhalgh visits places like Six Flags or Disneyworld.
"We were at an amusement [park], and I lost her for two or three minutes and it was just horrifying," said Lorna Greenhalgh, who uses the system after having a scare in an amusement park.
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 322 million people visited approximately 600 amusement parks in the United States. Because of the size of many of the parks and the sheer number of people who go to them, the possibility of losing a child is real.
Randy Josselyn, the director of admissions of Wild Rivers Water Park said that the park uses SafeTzone, a tracking system which monitors kids at amusement parks.
"We're a huge, huge water park," Josselyn said. "We have multiple areas. And we just want to offer our guests peace of mind."
Evan Gentry said that often times his family has to split up and SafeTzone is a good way to stay in touch.
"We often times have to split up -- one of us with the bigger kids, one with the littler kids," he said. "And you know it's a big park. So to be able to find our where everybody is and locate then is just very convenient."
SafeTzone uses radio frequency technology which almost instantly pinpoints the location of every member of a family whenever a parent or child swipes their SafeTzone wristband at kiosks around the park.
SafeTzone also eliminates the need to carry cash. Parents authorize a specific spending limit and their kids can make purchases at restaurants and shops flashing their wristband not their wallet.
"She just scans it and she doesn't have to come running back carrying wet, soggy money and it's really nice," Greenhalgh said.
And this new technology is making its way across the U.S., SafeTzone is also featured at Dollywood Splash Country, a white water park in Tennessee and Wannado City, an indoor, role-playing theme park in Florida. It's especially popular with teens who crave independence.
"It's cool because I get to do whatever I want and my mom doesn't have to follow me around and she normally doesn't let me do that stuff, said teenager Damon Couch.
Another successful safety system, Kid Track, is featured at Pennsylvania's Dorney Park and six other Cedar Fair parks across the country. A child's photo and contact information are stored in a security data base. A code on a wrist band is all it takes to call up that information if the child is lost.
Parents should still create their own alert systems, by arming their families with whistles to use if you're separated. And most important, parents should teach young children to freeze in place if they lose sight of mom or dad.
"We tell them often that they need to check in with us often, that we have a check-in zone also, a place where we can meet up as a family and that the lifeguards are people that they can go to and ask if they feel concerned," said Sandi Gentry, who uses SafeTzone.
"GMA" Parenting Contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy offered more tips on how to stay safe at the amusement park.