Disaster preparedness is something you can teach your children at an early age. As parents or guardians, we want the next generation to be prepared for the unexpected. It is a given that every young one should be taught the basic survival skills but it will also be helpful if they know what to do in case disaster strikes.
Disaster Preparedness: Prepping with Kids
As we always say, no one is sure when or where the big one will happen. The kids might not be with you on that day so in order to ensure that they will survive it, you need to train them on disaster preparedness. What is so great about giving prepping tips for kids is that they will bring this knowledge with them for the rest of their lives.
For us preppers, disaster preparedness is not just about boy scout or girl scout training; it is arming the children with knowledge that is on a higher level. While others teach the youth to fish, you are teaching them to fish, hunt, forage, cook, build a shelter, the list goes on.
1. Make sure your child knows she is safe
If nothing else, it’s your responsibility as a parent to keep your child safe. And the first way to do that is to tell them they’re safe. Offering hugs and security is your job. So when you sit your child down, make sure he knows that you will do everything you can to keep him as safe as he is, always. During natural disasters, things can always get out of hand. But your kids will feel confident knowing that you’re doing your best for them.
2. Disaster preparedness lessons: Let them experiment
We all know that the best way to learn is by doing. If you have the space, give your kids their own little plot of garden space, their own animal, or their own part of the farm that is their responsibility. Start by letting them work alongside you, then let them experiment as they get older and have a better grasp of what they are doing. Who knows – they may end up finding better methods than the ones that you’re currently using!
3. Memorize important contact information
Require your kids to memorize important contact information of disaster rescue organizations, police, and fire fighters. Your kids need to have access to survival food kits in case of disasters through calamity relief operations if disasters strike while they’re away from home.
4. Don’t assume that they know something about disaster preparedness
Just because you’ve been adding to your stockpile or target practicing in front of them since they were small, don’t assume that they picked up on everything.
They may know that your magnesium stick is used to start fires, but you need to teach them the technical skill as if they’ve never done it before, because they haven’t. You don’t want to leave holes in their training, so start at step one with every new task.
5. Include the children in disaster preparedness
What I do recommend is making sure that part of your checklist of prepping items always has kid specific preps included. For example if you’ve got three months of food stored up for your family you should check and see how many of the meals you have are going to appeal to your kids. I’m a big believer in freeze dried food and of course as kids get hungry they tend to get less picky but wouldn’t it be great if you had some instant macaroni and cheese dinners tossed in with your preps as well? Having something you know your kids will enjoy is important to keep them happy and their anxiety levels at a minimum during a power outage or other event that could be scary to a youngster.
6. Exercise regularly
While the ideal situation in the event of an emergency or disaster is that you’ll be able to remain in your home, this might not always be feasible, especially if you are evacuated from your area. In this case, you and your family could find yourselves having to hoof it to reach a safe place. So being physically fit is an important part of preparedness, in addition to creating an overall state of good health and well-being.
7. Without frightening them, explain the importance of disaster preparedness
Of course, for many kids, they need an explanation when you need to motivate them to do anything. As a parent, I always try to be as honest with my kids as possible, after considering age appropriateness. Depending if you’re children are old enough to understand and not be too frightened, make it clear to them that we live in an uncertain world for various reasons, and that taking all possible precautions to live without anyone’s help is a good creed to live by. Also note that learning to live independently with only the emotional support of friends and family is something that develops pride and responsibility, two qualities that are good for their own sake.
8. Don’t underestimate your kids
You’ve done your best as a parent; don’t underestimate your kids. When push comes to shove, family is family. If you’ve taught them well, they’ll do whatever they need to do to help out. With that in mind, give them the tools and training that they need to do so. You may think that it’s all falling on deaf ears, but you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised.
Also, as they get older, consult them and work with them. You may just get some great ideas or gain a perspective that you’d never considered.
9. Prepping is stressful, make it enjoyable
The first thing you need to realize is that prepping is stressful, even for you. As a parent, you’ll want to make the experience as enjoyable for your children as possible.
Don’t turn prepping into a chore or homework assignment, make it fun for them. Furthermore, you’ll get a lot more done as a family if they enjoy doing it.
10. Instill a healthy respect of fire
Schools often do a good job of holding fire drills to teach kids about fire safety, but they don’t teach kids how to build a fire. That’s the job of a prepper! As your child’s guardian and as a prepper, you must instill a healthy respect of fire. This understanding will teach your child more about fire safety than his peers may know.
Here’s how to build a healthy respect for fire:
Make a candy fire. Make a pretend fire with candy. Start with a jelly bean fire ring, use a fork to rake a crushed Oreo as dirt, set out coconut shreds as fluffy kindling, pretzels for kindling, make a match out of a raisin, add a tootsie roll is the log, and top it with fruit rollup flames.
Explain the importance of tying up hair, and securing loose clothing before building a fire.
Teach kids the stop, drop and roll method.
11. Develop in them a love for the outdoors early
One thing I’ve learned is that once you get that “outdoor bug” at a young age, it never leaves you. Every summer, my family and I would spend time on the family farm, and we’d often leave the house and go camping in the woods. At first, I absolutely hated the camping part, especially since I was somewhat whiney about everything—bugs, heat, hunger, etc. However, once I got over the initial hardships, I absolutely loved communing with the great outdoors. As such, in order to instill that love for the outdoors, its best to ignore their initial complaints; they will love it soon enough.
12. Live off the land
If the circumstances allow it, living off of the land may become a priority. As farmers were able to survive more than 200 years ago without a 7-11, so can your children. It may be a completely different lifestyle than what they’re used to, but they need to understand that it may be a necessity. The stockpile of seeds you are accumulating may literally be the difference between life and death.
13. Vegetables for family meals
Food is one of the most essential things you must have for you and your little ones in the midst of a disaster. When a disaster strikes, you’ll ultimately be depending on survival food kits in order to get food in your stomach. Food kits can only last for so long, though. When these food items run out, you’ll have to rely on natural edible products around you for survival in worst case scenarios.
With these things said, it’s never too early to train your children to get used to eating organic veggies, periodically in meals, for disaster preparation. Once your children get used to eating organic food products, they’ll have an easier time adjusting to the situation in case a tragic catastrophe occurs.
14. Teach them self defense skills
Provide self-defense instruction: Learn the art of self defense, including enrollment in a Martial Arts class. Martial Arts will instill confidence in your child and has also proven to increase grades at school.
Get crafty with duct tape and paracord. Preppers do amazing things with duct tape! There are fun crafts with duct tape from making wallets to paracord
Knife skills. In the 1950s, parents trusted kids with a pocket knife and boys probably carried them to school. It’s obviously not the same today. While you can provide instruction and safely teach your child skills with a knife, it’s up to you to teach responsibility, supervise your child, and store knives safely away for appropriate use only.
15. Grow an organic garden
One part of prepping that kids are sure to enjoy is gardening. Most children love to get their hands in the dirt and watch as their efforts produce incredible results in the way of fruits and vegetables. Plus, this will help get them excited about canning, jamming, cooking, and every part of the farm-to-table method of consumption.
16. Go for non-perishables
As children may not understand the difference in food types, explain why non-perishable items are ideal for survival planning. Canned goods have a far longer shelf life that nearly anything else you can buy from the store aside from dried goods. Children need to know how foods can degrade over time and become inedible.
17. Prep for first aid
Emergency survival kits save lives when injuries occur. Even at a young age, your child needs to know how to use these tools for their protection.
Find time to demonstrate how to use the tools in a first aid kit to your kids . They will not have someone to look after them all the time to make sure they’re okay. Therefore, they need to learn the simplest way of protecting themselves to better increase their chances for survival.
18. Discuss your past experiences
One way that children develop expectations about life is by proxy. They learn by what others tell them they’ve done. If you used to camp as a child, tell them about those experiences. Tell them how much fun you had as a kid. Tell them examples of what you went through so they have an idea what they may go through. Tell them that part of the adventure and fun of being out there was being in a situation that you didn’t know what to do, and you figured it out for yourself. Survival is the ultimate puzzle game.
19. Don’t scare them…much
The very fact that we’re prepping indicates that we have at least a small amount of fear. You may call it being realistic, or being able to read the signs of the times. If you’re honest, we’re all a little bit scared, too. It’s natural because we’re preparing for a traumatic event that we may not survive.
Some fear in this case is healthy. Stealing your kids’ sense of safety isn’t, though.
20. Drive intruders away the smart way
Of course, you can’t avoid having the need to go somewhere sometimes without bringing along your child with you. You need to teach your kids how to outsmart potential intruders before leaving them home alone.
First, you need to completely prepare your kids to be aware of the presence of possible intruders. Advice your kids to keep all doors and windows locked, and close the blinds and curtains. Tell your kids to turn on the television or radio afterwards, to scare potential intruders away before they break into your home. The thought of having people at home makes intruders fear that their criminal plan will backfire.
21. Teach them the value of secrecy
This only applies if you’ve decided to keep your prepping plans a secret. If you don’t want their friends and neighbors to know about your efforts, make sure that you tell them. Since stockpiling and living off the grid are natural to them, they may not realize that not everybody is doing it, especially when they’re small.
Just tell them that it’s very important that nobody knows where the supplies are or that there even ARE supplies and that it’s a matter of maybe not having enough food in the future.
22. Set a good example
Remember that your children are always watching, probably more than you realize. I’m not saying you can’t watch a little television in front of your kids, but if that’s all they ever see you doing they’re going to wonder why they shouldn’t do the same.
On the other hand, if they see you reading, exercising, taking care of supplies and equipment, storing food, working in the garden, and so forth, there’s a good chance they’ll emulate that behavior. You want them to understand that prepping is a normal and important part of life. These values will stick with them forever.
23. Have fun!
As you probably know, preparing for potential disaster situations is no easy undertaking. And kids need not be privy to every detail of the process, at least not until they’re older. If you want to get them on the right track, there are ways to make the process fun for them. When they associate being prepared and responsible with enjoyment and pride from a young age, your kids will carry the lessons you teach them into adulthood.