You have your bug-out-bag packed and ready. You have read all the books, fiction and non-fiction, on the subject of TEOTWAWKI. In addition, you are a dutiful daily reader of survivalblog.com, and you’re mentally prepared for whatever may come when the SHTF. Then you have kids.
How Do You Prepare a Toddler For An Evacuation?
There are plenty of books on pregnancy, the birthing process, parenting, and raising healthy and well adjusted children. But how do you prepare a toddler or young child for an extended evacuation?
Millions of Families Are Forced to Flee Their Home
Every year, millions of families are forced to flee their homes due to a variety of disasters, both natural and man-made. In America this is especially true for Californians dealing with wildfires (both in the southern and northern portions of the state), as well as East and Gulf coasters battling (or running from) hurricanes.
As a reader of this website, you don’t need me to lay out all of the many ways the Shumer could hit the fan in your personal life. You have probably thought through different disasters that could affect you personally, and you have planned for them. However, most Americans have not.
The Average American
The average “near-a-coast” American knows they should have supplies set up for a natural disaster and have a bag packed should they have to evacuate. Unfortunately, not many do, and instead they end up scrambling for supplies and throwing items into their car or a suitcase when the wildfire or hurricane (or insert your disaster) is barreling toward them.
Children in these situations are left confused, scared, and unprepared for the evacuation.
While this scenario may not (and hopefully does not) apply to you and your family, the information that I want to convey to you here could be useful (maybe life saving) to a friend or family member that does not buy into the likelihood of a TEOTWAWKI event. My hope is that you might learn something you can apply to your family, or that I can present the information in a more digestible way to convince your loved ones to start planning.
When you convey this information to your non-prepper friend/family member, talking in terms of “evacuations” rather than “bugging out” may help them realize that it could be beneficial. People are being forced to evacuate RIGHT NOW from the wildfires raging in California. This is not The End of the World type stuff that may or may not happen. It’s real and happening now, and it could happen to your family.
Preparing Children for Evacuation
So why focus on the children? Personally, I am of the mind that adults have a personal responsibility to take care of themselves. Ignorance to what is going on around you is not a valid excuse. If an adult is left unprepared during an evacuation, it is probably his/her fault. The information is out there. As an adult, you have the means to learn and purchase/acquire what you need to prepare. You make the choice to either learn or not, to prepare mentally and physically or not.
The same cannot be said for children. They need to be taught readiness. They need to be guided through a disaster scenario. And yes, they need you to purchase or set aside items for them to use in an evacuation event (and then be taught how to use each item!).
When a disaster is happening (or imminent) and you are forced to evacuate, the last thing you want to be thinking about is whether or not you forgot something. Under normal circumstances it’s easy to forget things, so imagine how clear your thinking will be in high stress situations. This goes especially for kids and also for parents who are just concerned about getting their children away from the threat.
The first step to getting your children ready for a disaster or evacuation is acknowledging that it could happen. As adults, we tend to think, “Yeah, that happened to them, but it couldn’t possibly happen to me.” Denial can be a strong deterrent to preparation.
For kids, you will have an age-dependent discussion. It can start as simple as “we might have to go on an adventure” for toddlers and progress to explaining the potential disaster/associated dangers for older children.
Mindset of Being Useful and In Control of Something
Pre-teens and teenagers should be taught in a straightforward manner and included in disaster planning. They are old enough to understand the danger. If you include them in the planning and give them responsibilities, they will feel needed and be more engaged. Remember, for any age, the goal is to get them in the mindset of being useful and in control of something, even if it is just a teddy bear. This will help keep their mind focused on something other than being scared, thereby managing their fear level.
The next step is going over what they will need to do and then practicing it. (There is more on this in a minute.) Kids need to know their role, and they need to have it reinforced multiple times. Habits can be good or bad. Getting their part of the plan down pat with practice (even if it is just grabbing a bag from a set location and sitting quietly in the van) can save you seconds or minutes that could determine whether your family makes it out or not. It can be that serious.
Know Destination and Important Addresses and Phone Numbers
Each child needs to know (based on intellectual ability) important addresses and phone numbers. Older kids should have them memorized. Your destination should be known by everyone, even if the toddler only knows that you are going to Grandma’s house. Everyone, parents included, should buck the trend of using cell phones to “remember” important phone numbers, and memorize one or two key numbers just in case. Remember that you are trying to key in on just the essential information. By boiling it down to just a few numbers and addresses, and quizzing your kids regularly, you should all be able to remember the essential information.
What Mom and Dad Say During Crisis Must Be Followed Immediately Without Question
The last and possibly most important component of mental preparation is that each of your children understand explicitly that what Mom and Dad say during a crisis is to be followed immediately and without question. There is no room for debate or hesitation. Again, seconds can save lives. How you achieve this is up to you and your parenting style. However you do it, it must be accomplished.
Quiz Children Regularly and Practice
Be sure to quiz your children regularly about their role and the information they are required to memorize. Do not go over this just once and then shelve it until the disaster. Make it a game, if that helps. Regular quizzing and practice are essential for everyone, including the adults. As your children get older, you can add responsibilities and bring them more and more into the overall planning of the evacuation. Don’t be afraid to let your kids voice their ideas; they may (and probably will) surprise you!
Tomorrow, we will cover the bug-out-bag for children. We will also talk about practicing the evacuation itself and things to say to help the mindset of children who just don’t want to do it or continue on when they must.
- Get Your Children Ready- Part 2, by Save Your Ace (Active on 12/12/18)
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 80 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
- An assortment of products along with a one hour consultation on health and wellness from Pruitt’s Tree Resin (a $265 value).
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.
Round 80 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.