Bugging Out With Children
When you have a family, preparing for an emergency becomes a more complex task. You will need to think about the requirements and capabilities of each family member.
Your survival plan will become more complex and your ability to quickly bug out may become more difficult.
Here are some tips for designing a bug out bag for each family member and improving the survival skills of your children.
Assess the Capabilities of Each Family Member
The age, physical condition, experience, skills, knowledge and maturity of each family member will determine their capabilities in a survival situation.
You should make a realistic assessment of how each family member will perform during an emergency and also identify any specific requirements they have.
Unlike you, they are probably not trained survivalists!
By identifying their capabilities and requirements early on, you can make better decisions about how to prepare them for an emergency situation.
Prepare Your Children and Give Them Survival Skills
Children can begin to learn some basic survival skills as young as 4 years of age.
Start with the basics — applying band aids to themselves, blowing a whistle if they need help and understanding what to do if they become separated.
Explain the concept of a bug out bag and survival skills to your child. They should be able to know what to do if an emergency arises.
Make sure they understand and appreciate the contents of their bug out bag. Older children must understand the purpose of each item in their bug out bag and be able to use them in a survival situation.
Designing a Bug Out Bag For Your Children
Once you have assessed the capabilities and requirements of each family member, you will know what they can carry themselves, what they can use and what they need.
If your child is in the 5-10 year-old age bracket, don’t expect them to tolerate a great deal of weight in their bug out bag.
At that age, they lack the strength and endurance necessary to carry a heavy bag for long distances.
The worst case scenario is that you are forced to go on foot, which exhausts your child and forces you to carry them AND their bug out bag.
If they are younger than 5 don’t expect them to carry anything — every item they need will be carried by you.
One solution for dealing with the large number of essential survival items that your family may require is to add a small wagon to your survival plan.
You can place the wagon inside your car when bugging out and if the roads are closed or your car breaks down, transfer the gear to the wagon.
Avoid weighing down your children with a bug out bag, which allows them to walk longer distances.
Customize your wagon to include a baby seat, tool holder, water barrel or whatever item you need.
It will be far easier pulling the trailer than carrying a tired child and multiple bug out bags. You can also cover the wagon so your younger children have shelter from the elements.
Bugging Out With Infants (0-4 years of age)
At this age, your child is extremely dependent upon you for their well-being. Virtually everything they need will have to be carried in your bug out bag and they will need to be constantly carried.
Children at this age are placed into a new environment become emotionally distressed and will require a lot of contact with their parents.
A combination child carrier and backpack is a useful way to carry your infant and their bug out bag contents. Having their weight on your back is the most efficient way to carry them (other than a wagon).
Some of the essential survival items your toddler will require include:
- Reusable diapers
– Cloth diapers are the best option because they are also multipurpose
- Baby formula, water to mix it, pre-sterilized bottles and sterilization agent.
– Even if the mother of the child is breastfeeding, they may become separated at some point or an illness could prevent the mother from breastfeeding
- Multiple pacifiers
- Two additional sets of clothing and a waterproof bodysuit
- Hat, sunglasses, dust mask, poncho
- Any medicine the child requires, a medical syringe, eyedrops and painkillers suitable for an infant
- A couple of toys to keep your infant amused would also be useful.
Feeding your Infant
If a disaster should arise, sourcing formula and diapers may become difficult.
For that reason, breastfeeding should be encouraged and a plentiful supply of cloth diapers should be purchased.
The material in cloth diapers can be used to create blankets or clothing once your infant no longer requires diapers.
Bugging Out With Children (5-10 years of age)
The primary goal of a child’s bug out bag is to provide both survival items and comfort items.
A child between the ages of 5 and 10 can become stressed when taken out of their home environment and placed into a potentially dangerous situation.
Their mental health is very important and providing your child with a few entertainment options will help keep them happy.
At this age, the child can potentially carry their bug out bag and may even have a few survival skills. Be very careful the weight of the bag and ensure that they are not becoming exhausted too quickly if on foot.
The basic survival items in a child’s bug out bag should include:
- Emergency whistle (they should be taught how to use this important item)
- Emergency contact details on a laminated card, including your address, phone number and photographs of other family members.
- Socks, gloves, hat, goggles, waterproof poncho, dust mask
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer and some kid’s bandaids
- Cell phone with your contact numbers programmed in
- Comfort items can include:
- A small stuffed toy, playing cards
- A rubber ball for playing handball
- A small electronic device to play games on
- Some food including hard candy, trail mix, bubble gum, granola bars
- Their favorite blanket
Bugging Out With Tweens and Teenagers (11-18)
By this stage, most children will be capable of carrying their own bug out bag and may have some survival skills. Some children in this age bracket may even be able to help you carry their siblings or carry more survival gear.
Purchase a quality bug out bag that suits the physical attributes of your child. If your child is not in peak physical condition, consider taking some of the heavier pieces of survival gear out of their bag and placing them in yours.
By this stage, your child should be comfortable using survival gear and understand what will happen when your family encounters a survival situation.
You should design their bug out bag so they can survive even if they become separated from you. Things to include in their bug out bag:
- Survival knife and potentially a firearm (for older teenagers with appropriate training)
- First aid kit
- Equipment for orienteering including maps and a compass
- Fire starting equipment including redundancies
- Water purification tablets
- Hunting tools
- A book on survival techniques
- Tools for building shelter including a tarpaulin and rope
- Two changes of clothes, goggle, waterproof poncho, hat, gloves, dust mask and a blanket
- Food and water
- Communication items including a signaling mirror, flashlight, glow sticks, whistle, and mobile phone
Planning is a crucial aspect of emergency preparedness. Organize your bug out bags early on and work with your family to develop an emergency routine that keeps them safe.