Do you have a Separate Bug Out Bag for your kids?During a crisis or disaster situation, one of your most important jobs you will have is to help your child feel as safe and secure as possible. Most people greatly underestimate the physical and emotional toll disasters can have on people, especially on young children.
But there are some things you can do to safeguard their mental health.
Something that I’m a big proponent of, and something that I think helps give children a sense of security, is involving them in your preparedness planning as much as possible. That means talking to them in an age appropriate way about what you expect of them, what they should expect during a disaster, and also involving them in preparedness drills and training.
Preparing a dedicated survival bug out bag for your child.
One great way to make them feel like they have a voice, and a sense of power during times of crisis, is to give them their own dedicated bug out bag.
Having their own child-sized Bug Out Bag, filled with familiar items and comfort foods, can be a real, life saver during an emergency. Just remember that a child’s survival bag is going to be much different than the bags that you have prepared for yourself and your family.
With children, you’re going to forgo most of the traditional survival gear you would think about when preparing an adult bag, and instead, comfort items will become a top priority in selecting items to fill the bag with. Having a backpack filled with comforting and familiar things can help ensure their overall mental health during a crisis or disaster.
Let’s start with the bag itself.
Don’t go crazy here; remember this bag is a supplemental bag for your kids so don’t do crazy buying fancy military bags or hiking backpacks.
For Younger Kids:
We really like Deuter backpacks for kids. They are a solid company that makes adult hiking packs, so you will find that hiking quality construction in their child’s line. Plus, they look like something a younger kid would like to carry.
For Pre-Teens and Teenagers
For pre-teens and teenagers I recommend going with the classic JanSport Student Pack. They are solid bags that will hold up, plus I don’t like kids walking around looking like they are carrying gear. These discrete bags are awesome; in fact, we even recommended them in our article for people looking for Discreet Bug Out Bags.
What Items should go into a kid’s bug out bag:
What goes into the bag really depends on your child’s age and their maturity. While the needs of each child are going to be a little different, there are some things you should consider when building an emergency bag for your kid.
Basic Survival Gear to Pack
While comfort items are the top priority, it is a good idea to give them a couple of survival items. It will not only help them feel important like mom and Dad, but it also introduces them to skills that will keep them safe throughout their lifetime.
A child’s survival gear be lightweight, age-appropriate, and if you can make it fun then that’s always a plus. Heavier items and gear should always be in the adult’s bags. Here are some items that we recommend adding to your kids disaster backpack.
- Laminated emergency contact list with name, home address, and telephone numbers.
- Pre-paid cell phone
- Extra socks, pair of gloves and knit hat or bandana (depending on your climate)
- Dust masks
- Band aids & wipes
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer
- Canteen or water bottle.
Young Children and Pre-teens:
Flashlights: We like the Dorcy Waterproof Light: It’s colorful, child-friendly, and it lasts for over 8 hours on 3 double AA batteries. Yes, you can find better survival flashlights, but the point here is making it less stressful on your child, so this is a good solid light that also feels like something they can play with.
Emergency Whistle: Clip one to the outside of their bag. First it’s good for scaring off bad guys and animals, but it also will help you find them should they become separated from the family. It’s also another one of those survival items that are also fun in a child’s eyes. We like the Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Whistle, it comes in a bunch of colors, kids will think it looks cool, and it’s loud with a sound power of 120 dB!
For most teens, I recommend starting to add gear that you would add to your own bag. The only caveat that I would add is to make sure they are trained and know how to use the items you store in their bag. Their first time using a pocket knife shouldn’t be during a disaster!
Here are a couple items that we really like for Teens:
Flashlights: For a teenager, we like the J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight. It’s relatively cheap, takes a single AA battery, and is a good solid light that many adults choose to keep in their bags.
Survival Knife: For a teenager, or even a younger kid who has the maturity and training to use one correctly, we LOVE Moraknives! I bought one for my son, so he could start learning how to use a knife. We recommend the Morakniv Craftline Basic 511 High Carbon Steel Knife. They are extremely affordable, I would trust them as a knife that I carried as an EDC, it has a safety guard which I think all kid knives should have, and it’s an important piece of gear to have and know how to use as they get older.
Comfort Items to Pack
When building a bag for a child, comfort and mental stability are the primary purposes of the bag. Don’t overlook the importance of entertainment and comfort; during a disaster, the last thing you need is a kid who is overly stressed out and anxious.
- An iPad to play games, read, watch movies, etc.. I’m not usually a fan of kids spending large amounts of time staring at a screen, but during a disaster this will be a welcome distraction. Just make sure you include a portable solar charger in your bag.
- Stuffed animals
- A couple small light-weight toys
- Pack of playing cards, Uno Cards, or travel size games
- Baseball or small Nerf football
- Hard candy
- Sugar packets
- Trail mix
- Drink mix packets
Remember, a kid’s bug out bag is not meant to be an adult Bag. Its primary purpose is to provide comfort during a stressful situation and give your child a sense of control. With younger children, comfort items are a top priority and will help ensure their overall mental health.
Make sure you customize the bag for your child’s age, personality, and overall fitness level.
Recommended Preparedness Reading for Parents
- Survival Mom Essentials: How to prepare your family for disasters and survival situations.
- Preparedness Resource Guide: If you are new to prepping, this is good place to start. The article covers almost everything you need to know to protect your children and your family.
- Preparedness for Children: This article will help you introduce the topic of preparedness to your children, and will help make sure they are ready to face disasters.
- Preparedness at School: If your child goes to public school, they need to know how to respond to disasters when you are not around. This article will help them do just that!
- Dorm Room Preparedness: Have an older kid who is getting ready to go into college, make sure to go over these tips.
- Talking to Family about Preparedness: How to talk to your family about prepping for disasters.