Get Your Children Ready- Part 1, by Save Your Ace

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.

Start Planning

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.

Mental Preparation

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.

Age-Dependent Discussion

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.

Practice

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.

See Also:

  • Get Your Children Ready- Part 2, by Save Your Ace (Active on 12/12/18)

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12 Comments

  1. Everything that modernity has taught us about children is wrong. Children pick up on danger from your emotional state and manner not what you say. Having matter of fact calm discussions about reality is what needs to be done. Never lie to your children, they know that you’re lying and this sows the seeds of latter distrust. There is no such thing as an Age Dependent conversation. This is the type of pop psychology hogwash that has ruined a generation. Children are NOT fragile. they adapt well to every environment on earth and learn fast, we are God’s most clever creation. Children must be taught to prepare well themselves, so that they can take care of themselves, not be served by adults. Never, ever, serve your children, the Holy Bible is clear about this; it’s shameful, sinful, abhorrent. Children need leadership, tasking, and guidance based on fact, not dumbed down conversations. Make them work as part of the family team. This is how you build a tribe together. Leadership, honesty, trust, teamwork. Again, there is no such thing as an age dependent conversation there is only calm competent leadership.

      1. Ok, you got me but only half way. 5 years is perfect for beginning instruction on what the Holy Bible says about assault and self defense and greater war, and also to discuss the beauty of virginal marriage consummation in surrendering to the man who will be your leader, father of your children, and husband. Pray to the LORD without ceasing for this man, yet unknown. Although vaginal penetration is only one form of many, perhaps a more general discussion about assault and defense before specific types are covered, unless of course you’re a leftist public school. Context matters.

  2. For sure, and for those of us with handicap children in power wheelchairs the challenges are magnafied intensely. I keep deep cycle batteries charged up and solar panels at the ready, to be able to charge up my boys wheelchair. I also have a spare set of wheelchair batteries ready to go. We will never be bugging out over rough terrain on foot very far as it’s not possible so defensive preperations first (Like fire breaks and all the usual preps recommended here that are approriate to our locale), and leaving is always a last resort but if needed we can evac in the wheelchair van…. walking far with wheelchair bound children in a forest fire (Like Paradise Camp fire only 4 miles from here) would not end well…. like for many elderly in Paradise recently. Be prepared and preparing those who cannot for themselves matters. Plan for a place to go…. talk to people you are related to or know to go to in an emergency.

  3. Good article; looking forward to part 2. My grandchildren are ready but I can’t say the same for my grand nieces and nephews. Their parents are wrapped up in other problems and are oblivious to even natural disasters. At Christmas and birthday times I send the older ones camping equipment, age-appropriate outdoor/hunting tools like multitools and walkie talkies. I send the younger ones books or games having to do with the outdoors along with things like a compass, headlamp, emergency whistle and blankets or two person tent or ropes and instructions for knot tying. I use an old Boy Scout book as a guide for level of difficulty and instructions on how to do two or three accomplishments. The kids don’t have the attention span for the whole book at one time.

  4. My son was in grade school and started asking “Why?” every time I asked him to do something with a big smile on his face. I would ask him to do his chores, “Why?”. Help his mom carrying in the groceries “Why?”. Time to go to bed “Why?”.

    One day I had had enough and told him, “One of these days I might tell you to move and you are just going to stand there asking ‘Why?” as a tree limb falls on you and kills you.” Son gave me a strange look and never asked, “Why?” again.

  5. Good article and good points about discipline.

    Not to bore anyone about the earthquake in Alaska again, but many people around these parts kept saying how frightened their kids were for a week after the event. Kids regulate themselves off their parents, so if you act skittish and frantic, your kids will pick right up on that, and I suspect that was what was happening. We all owe it to our kids to set a good example in stressful situations, both mothers and fathers, so that they know we will do our utmost to keep them secure and safe no matter what.

  6. The reality of bugging out with kids is that it is essentially a medivac no matter what condition the kids are in. Their safety and handling will be your primary concern, just as if they were patients. Depending on their size, condition, and mental and physical state, you will probably end up carrying one or more. This has some serious ramifications for YOUR ability to carry a BOB, or other tools. Ever try to draw your CHL pistol while your toddler is on your hip? How about carry her on your back while wearing your pistol?

    You will need to consider their pace and ability when planning all of your evacuation.

    I added two webbing straps to my car kit that I could use to strap my youngest to my back if needed. I tested them with her and it was doable but certainly not comfortable. I wore them crossed, with one of her legs thru each, and she held on to my shoulders. A backpack with leg holes cut in it might work better depending on your child.

    Your bug out lists should include stuff for your kids too. At a minimum, it should include their ‘security blanket’ whether that is a favorite toy or stuffed animal or an actual blanket. Make sure they have a bookbag style backpack of their own. They will feel more part of the group if they have a backpack too. It can have their toy, some juice boxes, and some snacks in it. Since you will carry it at some point it should be VERY lightweight.

    If you think you’ll be bugging out thru a riot torn city in a vehicle, make sure you have head phones (ear defenders) for them, and kid sized safety glasses. If there is a real risk you might have to fire a weapon in your vehicle, you should put yours on too.

    Speaking of lists, I have a card on a lanyard for me, and one for my wife. They have my lists on them, and a small flashlight and mini-multitool. The lists are “5 minutes”and “15 minutes” on one side, and “30 minutes” on the other. The lists are of what important stuff needs to be loaded based on the time available. I plan to work the list until I run out of time. The wife’s list is basically “load up the kids”. This way critical stuff gets loaded first, and I have a stopping point if things are really short time.

    Also, we’ve been working with the kids since they were toddlers on the “time to listen and DO” thing. We have a phrase that means “do what I say without questions, right now” and we review it when we go out to any public event, or into any novel situation. We never use it for anything less than potentially serious events. We’ve used it ONCE at the fair to get them to stay behind hard cover when we came across the local PD doing a felony search and arrest on a fairgoer. Hard core gang banger, and I could think of lots of ways the situation could go wrong, so we faded back and got behind cover until they had him out of there. The phrase is distinctive, but not something that would raise anything but mild puzzlement in anyone who overheard it.

    Lastly, an awful lot of self defense advice or training simply doesn’t work with kids along. Spend the time to think thru any of your reactions and responses from the point of view that you can’t retreat, you’re carrying your most precious asset (who is screaming in your ear and weighs 40 pounds), and you can’t get in a “tactical” stance….

    Kids really do change everything.

    nick

  7. For kids who incessantly ask why when told to do a chore, tell them to do it first and then you will answer the question. This works quite well with many children. The ones who actually do want to know why will ask afterwards. The ones for whom it was an avoidance ploy will not.

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