I’ve been a prepper long before my daughter came along. Prepping with a child isn’t necessarily that much different than prepping for an adult; they need food, water and shelter just like adults do. Sure, they’re kids and will definitely act out, throw tantrums, have a difficult time comprehending and understanding something right away; but their basic needs don’t change.
Let them be involved in everything; let them help create their bug out bag, let them help pick out a bag of their own, let them help make dehydrated meals, etc. Kids want to be involved in your life and more importantly, they should know what you’re doing and why.
The biggest piece of advice that I have about kids is that we must be patient and understanding. Kids don’t know anything. It’s up to us to teach them and it may take a few times (or more) of teaching for them to fully get it. It’s up to us to remain patient, understanding and most of all, encouraging. They’ll get it, just give them the proper time they need.
You may have taught your kids this skill or that skill, but when it comes to a real emergency, your kids may not be as understanding as they are during less stressful everyday life.
Let me quickly say that I know bugging out isn’t for everyone. The fact is, bugging out is just a fancy term for ‘evacuate’. Well, not ‘fancy’, per say, it’s a term derived from the military. Many prepper terms came from the military, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. There are countless emergencies or disasters which could force you from your home. Just recently there have been stories of sinkholes in Florida and an erupting volcano in Hawaii. In both of those situations, evacuations have been ordered.
I highly suggest creating a comprehensive disaster plan so that you know what to do for each and every scenario, no matter how “unrealistic” it might be; never say never. Get the whole family involved and if your kids are too young to help with the plans, then you need to be their advocate.
You need to plan for their safety and comfort. If you have a family, maybe a tent would be better than a tarp. Making sure all of their needs are properly going to be taken care of in a bug in or bug out situation is the most important thing to consider.
You also need to keep in mind the safety of your children when it comes to any tools, knives, weapons or anything similar.
Do you carry a gun? Is the safe always on or does it even have a safe? Is it kept on your person or stored elsewhere? Are your kids aware that you carry a gun? Do they know about proper gun safety?
Do you carry a knife? Is it somewhere that they can easily access? Are your kids aware that you carry a knife? Do they know proper knife safety?
What about other types of items that they shouldn’t be getting their hands on?
If your children are too young to comprehend safety around certain objects, then it’s even more important that you find a way to keep those objects from them until they’re older and can fully comprehend safety around objects that could be dangerous if not properly handled.
How do you do that if you’ve bugged out into a comfy, cozy tent with sharp objects in your bag that they really shouldn’t be getting their hands on?
When I’ve done my mock drills with my daughter, who is 22 months old at the time of writing this, this is what I do:
Keep the children involved/distracted with other objects. My daughter loves glow sticks and flashlights and rocks and ripping paper and drawing and many other things. Keeping young children entertained isn’t difficult, it just takes a little pre-planning forethought.
Always keep an eye on them. It is so easy to lose track of your kids, especially during a stressful situation when you’re having to do a million other things besides just watch them. However, we have to do something to keep an eye on them. So involve them in whatever you’re doing. Are you purifying water? Let them watch or let them hold the purifier or whatever it is. Are you cooking? Let them (safely) stir the pot. The best way to know that they’re staying out of trouble is to involve them. If you can’t or don’t want to involve them, then make sure they are off playing outside and can’t gain access to the tent where your bag is. My daughter is too young to work the tent zipper….for now. One day she’ll be able to work it but by then, hopefully she’ll be old enough to comprehend safety lessons.
Give them their own bag to rummage through. Each of your children should have their own bug out bag anyway, but if they don’t, give them their own bag or ziplock or something to rummage through. Fill it with some goodies that will keep them occupied and entertained so that they aren’t interested in rummaging through your bag.
The point is, kids do need to be entertained to keep them out of trouble. Some kids are great at entertaining themselves, some kids are great at getting into everything they shouldn’t. You know your kids best. If you think it’ll be best to carry a box with a lock on it to keep the sharp objects in there, that’s up to you. Or you could keep the things that they shouldn’t be getting their hands on inside a certain pouch and then lock the zippers of that pouch. You could even use a zip tie to lock the zippers together, thereby locking the pouch and ensuring that they do not get to the objects that they shouldn’t.
I highly suggest doing as many mock drills as you can NOW when there is nothing urgent and no impending doom about to come barreling down.
By running mock drills you’ll be able to see not only how well your plan plays out, but how well YOU react to your children, spouse and the plans themselves.
Simply writing down plans isn’t enough, once you throw yourself into a mock drill, you will learn a lot about yourself and any holes in your plan(s).
When it comes to kids, they feed off of our emotions; if we’re stressed or angry, they too will be stressed or angry or just difficult to deal with. It’s important that we try to remain calm and keep a level head around our kids. It won’t be easy; that’s why we run mock drills so that we can learn how to better ourselves and our plans for when it really counts.
Bugging out with kids isn’t difficult, it just takes time, patience, planning and understanding.
Morgan is the founder of Rogue Preparedness where she teaches people how to be prepared for everyday emergencies and disasters. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughter and two dogs where they are active in the outdoors, self-reliance and preparedness