12 Survival Tips for Families with Children
by Gaye Levy
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 bogeyman when there is none!
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 its 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 your 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.
Whether you have children of you own, or nieces, nephews and grandchildren, here are a few articles of interest 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 cannot 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!