Prepping can provide us with many challenges – from finding suitable storage locations to selecting the right type of bug out bag. When you have young children in your family (under 7 years old) additional challenges are created.
Can you imagine a young child sitting in your bug out vehicle for hours or even days on end while you head to your planned safe point without screaming about how bored or scared they are? How about needing to change your baby’s diaper but the local store ran out weeks ago?
If we make some considerations during our prepping we can help minimize the stress and discomfort of our children during a SHTF situation, making it much easier for us to deal with and get through.
Baby Boomers, don’t think you’re off the hook. What if you happen to have the grandkids with you when everything goes sideways? Gotta make a plan, too.
Children under 3 years old:
- Baby carrier or backpack – if you have to move quickly over any distance, a very young child is highly likely to slow you down (if you can get them moving at all). By using a baby carrier you can transport them quickly and safely. If you have a baby backpack then this will keep your hands free for any other survival task you need to complete. I would recommend getting the child used to being carried in this way now so when you have to get them in quickly, they won’t mind. These carriers also minimize the risk of losing the child as panic hits your area.
- Entertainment – this age group has a very short attention span, so keeping them entertained off grid style is always going to be a challenge. However having a supply of coloring books, building blocks, etc., will help keep them occupied. At this age, your child will not understand what is going on – all they will know is that they had lots of toys yesterday and today you are living in the dark and everything is a bit dirtier. Having these supplies will help your child feel a bit more normal and less upset. If you can, try and keep bedtime routines as close to normal as possible so story books may be needed too!
- Washable diapers –storing enough disposable diapers to last a few days is probably realistic for most people. However we don’t know how long a bad situation is going to last so it is best to store a few re-usable cloth diapers (3 per child is recommended). By doing this you have an almost endless supply of diapers – just wash and re-use as necessary.
- Comforters – make sure you have your child’s favorite blanket, cuddly toy or pacifier if appropriate. Any emergency situation will be stressful for young children. By allowing them some quiet time with something they know and find comfort from, will help reassure them that everything is OK, and can keep those tears at bay for a bit longer.
At this age your child is likely to need constant attention and care so you may need to share responsibilities of child care and foraging between the rest of the family.
Children 4 – 7 years old:
- Bug out bags – at this age most children love having their own space to store their things. They also love gifts so it is the perfect opportunity to get them a small child-friendly bug out bag. I am not talking about a military style backpack that is full of food rations and water purification tools. But giving your child a backpack that looks like their favorite TV character will give them the ability to carry some of their toys and clothes if you do ever need to bug out. The bag will need to be light and easy to carry, but it will free up some additional space in your bug out bag.
- Get them involved in your prepping – ask your child to help you rotate your supplies, go camping with them, have fun evacuation drills and games – get your child involved so prepping is normal for them. Making them aware of what we are doing and how they can help will ensure they know what to do in an emergency situation. A good and very simple game to play is to blindfold your child and ask them to find their way from their bedroom to a certain room in the house just by touch. This will get them used to finding their way out of their room to wherever you are in the house even if the lights are out.
- Medicine/first aid – Children get sick, their immune system is still developing so we need to ensure we have adequate supplies of cough syrup, ear drops, etc. Also having lots of band aids for scraped knees and small cuts will be needed as well as suitable first aid supplies. If your child takes a specific medicine regularly you will need to ensure you have enough of this stocked too.
This is a great age for your child to help out and begin learning essential survival skills. Keep everything fun and exciting and you will have your own mini prepper in no time!
Need some ideas on how to keep the kids (and adults) occupied during any emergency situation? This post, (“Games – No Boards Or Batteries Required”) will get you headed in the right direction.