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Survival Basics: 12 Tips for Families with Children

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Survival Basics: 12 Tips for Families with Children

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As someone who is well past child-bearing age, I often tend to overlook the importance of addressing survival and preparedness strategies for families with young children. That being said, when it comes to children, three words come to mind:  safety, security, and comfort.

As adults, I believe it is our duty to introduce children to preparedness activities at a young age. This needs to be done in a fun, but serious manner, so as to avoid fear.   The last thing we want to do is introduce a boogie man when there is none!

12 Tips for Families with Children

Over the years, I have always treated young children as mini-adults with an ability to rationalize, understand, and feel the emotions and body language of the adults around them.  I love that children are fresh and unspoiled by life and it’s failures.   Quite simply, I love kids.

For no other reason than that, I wish to share my thoughts on preparedness for families with little ones under the roof.

12 Tips for Families with Children

1.  Include children in family preparedness discussions.  Explain what you are talking about in a calm, assured manner and answer questions honestly and simply.  Focus the conversation on the safety issues that will ensure their survival.

2.  Regardless of their age, teach young children to memorize basic personal information such as full name, address, telephone number, and the names of their parents or guardians.  This will be invaluable in the event they become separated from their family following a disaster.

3.  Learn the disaster response policies of you child’s school or daycare center.  Be sure to establish a backup plan so that someone is available to pick them up and/or care for them if you are unable to do so.  A good idea would be to have the backup person check on them, regardless, just to be sure.  (After all, you may be hurt and unable to call the backup person yourself.)

4.  Make sure the school or daycare center always has current emergency contact information for your children.  They should also have a list of persons authorized to pick your children up from school.  The last thing you want is for a kidnapper to take advantage of the chaos and snatch your child away for some nefarious reason.

5.  Establish more than one family meeting site and make sure you child knows where it is.  This will help if you can not return to your home.

6.  Establish an out-of-state contact person and make sure that your child and the school knows how to reach this person.  Remember that although local phone lines may be down, long distance circuits often will be working following a disaster.

7.  Teach your children how to use 9-1-1 and practice what they should say to the dispatcher when they do call.

8.  Educate your children regarding the need to stay away from downed trees, downed utility poles and any wires that may be lying on the ground.  Also teach them to recognize the smell of gas and – this is important – to tell an adult they smell gas even if they are not 100% sure.  Include instructions to get outdoors and leave the home or building if they even think they smell gas.

9.  Practice evacuation strategies and evacuation routes as a family project.  Make an outing of it and while you don’t want to diminish the importance of the practice mission, make it fun as well.

10.  If you live in an earthquake or other natural disaster zone, teach them basic responses such as Drop, Cover and Hold or Stop, Drop and Roll.

11.  Prepare a mini bug-out-bag for each child.  Include a family picture, a toy, and a game, book or puzzle to keep him or her occupied.  Also include some treats.

12.  In the adult/family bug-out-bag, include copies of the children’s birth certificates, recent photos and additional kiddie comfort foods.

Additional Resources

Whether you have children of you own, or nieces, nephews and grandchildren, here are a few articles of interest here on Backdoor Survival.

Survival Basics: 10 Steps for Preparing a Family Emergency Plan
Survival Friday: Do You Have a Family Emergency Plan?
A Primer on Using 9-1-1 for Emergencies

The Final Word

One thing I used to hate when I was a child was grown-ups talking about something and assuming that I was either not interested or worse, unable to understand. In reality, I had an innate curiosity and even though I only understood half of what the adults were saying, I still soaked it up like a sponge.

With that in mind, I can not think of a better situation for including your children than a family discussion about planning for an emergency of survival situation.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin: Here are some items related specifically to todays article and the needs of children.

Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios:  This book covers the basics of prepping including food storage, water purification, financial and medical preparedness and communication during a crisis.  It goes beyond the basics, however, with the addition of charts, checklists and worksheets to help you stay organized in your preparedness efforts.

Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure: A Prepper’s Book for Kids:  This is currently my #1 pick for children.  In Jake & Miller’s Big Adventure, young readers discover it’s never too early to start prepping. Learning how to use life-saving survival equipment like canned goods, water filters, first aid kits, Mylar blankets and emergency radios can keep you safe, healthy and happy even in the scariest of adventures—whether you’re deep in the jungle or hunkering down at home.

FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight:  FAVORITE! This is my favorite flashlight.  Be sure to include on in very child’s backpack.  It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof.  Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery. This particular flashlight is available in basic black as well as red, blue and green.

Children’s Ear Muff:  Have you ever considered the fact that loud or strange noises may frighten a child following an emergency – especially if there are sirens (or heaven forbid, gunfire)?  These children’s earmuffs are inexpensive and will prevent the little ones for experience panic from the noise.

Child Sized Shooting and Safety Glasses:  Any parent, grandparent or friend who takes a young person out to the range for target practice needs to have some shooting glasses in their pack.

Grabber Big Pack Hand Warmers: These air-activated Hand Warmers will keep little hands and fingers toasty for over 7 hours. .

Cyalume SnapLight Chemical Light Sticks: Read all about light sticks at Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting.  These are not a toy but kids should know how to use them in an emergency situation.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!

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9 Responses to “Survival Basics: 12 Tips for Families with Children”

  1. Great post! I think society as a whole doesn’t include their children in much of any planning any more. Another reason that I love being a prepper is that it is one topic that my whole family can be involved in that isn’t like pulling teeth. The kids are very involved and as they get older they can tell that we are placing more and more responsibility on their shoulders, and they in turn lead the way for younger siblings. Kids are way more receptive to training when they feel like they are REALLY involved in something.

  2. Great tips! I would add that including children’s meds such as baby/childrens Tylenol or ibuprofen in the kit

  3. Several things I would add:
    1) whatever you teach the children, put it to music and they will remember it better;
    2)when you plan for someone else to pick up your child from somewhere, have a personal password which that someone must know and give to your child. If the password isn’t given, then the child doesn’t go, keeping him/her safe. Actually I’d have 2 code words, one for family and one for emergencies.
    3) Teach your child that if (s)he gets lost, “look for a mom or grandma with children.” I know this one works because when my daughter was 3, she wandered off while we were camping. They found her because as she wandered around she found a campsite where there were children playing so she knew it was safe to go and ask for help.
    Blend your prepping into daily activities so children gain confidence in what they know. THEY could be the ones who save YOU.

    O forgot, wherever there is a gathering of people, take the time to talk with your children. Have them watch how people behave and talk. Ask what they feel as they watch and listen, this is training to keep them safe as we get to those disasters times as well as when those times happen.

  4. One thing that I found to make for each child is an id card with all their specifics on it.. plus a finger print and laminated in the card is a straw with a couple of strands of hair.
    In the event of some tragic event.. useful information is there for the asking. we also have bug out kids in both small napsacks ( side bags ) and in gallon milk jugs. the grab and go kit

  5. Great information and resources here for my kids. I have a thirteen and a two year old. They both have their own bug out bags but I didn’t think of a book and a toy. Which of course would be a necessity! Also great idea about the ear muffs to drown out the scary sounds. Keeping them calm might be a life or death necessity.

  6. Great info. I’ve shared it with my daughter, who has 3 little ones.

    BTW….I recommend folks follow your link to the Mini Cree flashlight. I bought 3 on my first purchase. I was so impressed, I went back and bought 5 more! These are GREAT little lights!

  7. Unfortunately the only “children” in my house are the four legged ones. Maybe I should make a bug out bag for them and train them to grab their BoB whenever I tell them its time to bugout!

    Thanks Gaye, I’m sure everyone with small children appreciate the tips!
    (And the rest of us need to consider who may be coming to stay with us in an emergency)

    • We put together a real bug out bag for our Black Lab. Some people think we nuts but he’s family…and part of our security. He hears things and knows someone or something is approaching before we do! He has a wearable vest with pockets…basic first aid items, (dog booties), pet medications, 3-4 day supply of dry food and bottles of water & tie out cord & leash. Plus a dedicated bag that has neoprene vest for warmth or floatation, more food, dry dog shampoo & brush, high energy “treats”…and more

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