a day's food

Preparedness for Kids

Get your kids involved in disaster preparedness. It's fun for everyone and they can be a helpful asset in an emergency.

By Chance Ballew (RSS)
March 16, 2012

There are the, for lack of a better word, glamorous aspects to preparedness. You know, killing zombies, helping Will Smith stop an alien invasion or getting your “Red Dawn” on. But preparedness has a less sexy side, and that is bad weather or general mayhem. Recently, we were prepared to weather a storm that turned out to be for naught, but it was comforting to be ready. And the kids got to play along.

If you have to bug out, your kids will too. As an added bonus, they also can help carry stuff. Not as much as mom and dad, but they should be able to provide some help. And, if you’re like me, you kind of like having them around.


The first thing you do is talk to them about why. Don’t bombard them with doom and gloom scenarios—make it fun. In discussing why with my children, we talked about everything from weather, asteroids, zombies, pirates and more stuff than I can remember. They had fun with it, imagining the different reasons we’d have to get out of The City (My The City). Their little imaginations run wild, making-believe all manner of silliness, and they’re funny and intuitive.

For instance, my daughter recommended we take some extra dog food in case we ran into any stray dogs. She was thinking. It’s important to make them think and get them involved. They’ll have a good time doing this and imagining all manner of things they need and can do.

The primary purpose of the bug-out bag is, simply, sustenance. Gun people like to debate which gun for the zombie apocalypse and how much ammo to take, but give little thought to how many calories and water an adult or a child need per day. The standard bug-out bag setting is three days. I set out to figure what each child would need. I found a good list as a starting point provided by a blogger’s church.

I modified the food a bit based on my children’s likes and dislikes, and altered some quantities and volumes for convenience. For instance, instead of each of them having one small peanut butter, we put one large peanut butter in one bag. Instead of individual packs of trail mix, we put a big one in one bag. It saves space.

The next step is to make three packages of one day’s worth of rations. Explain to your children that it is a one day supply. If I let my son eat whatever he wanted, he’d eat nothing but the cereal bars for the first day.

In addition to the food, you’ll need utensils to eat. We opted for the CRKT Eat’n Tool, since it doubles for other uses. Don’t forget, if you take canned goods, a can opener is essential. Load the individual bags into the bug-out bag with water and other supplies.

After you make the food portion of your bug-out bag, rotate it out every six months. Just put the food in your pantry to eat, and refresh the stock in the bag.

Other items to include in the bag:

  • Flashlight
  • Pen and paper, in case we need to leave notes
  • An old, unused smart phone. In addition to being able to dial 911, it has games and other entertainment for the kids. Make sure you charge it periodically.
  • Lip balm
  • Money, in small bills and coins only, in case of vending machines
  • Folded paper towels kept in a zip bag. These serve many purposes, such as cleaning and emergency toilet paper.
  • Hand sanitizer

We also have a few stacks of games and toys that are easily grabbed for the trip, since bugging out would likely be boring for kids.

There are a few things we don’t keep in the kids’ bags, such as guns, knives, medicines and items used to start fires. Those are kept in the adult bags for obvious reasons.

The kids enjoyed this project, and it’s always fun to see them thinking and doing things. Try it for yourself—you’ll be surprised by their creativity.

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12 Responses to Preparedness for Kids

  1. Pingback: SayUncle » Bug out bags for kids

  2. GangBrown says:

    Comments…I’d also suggest an emergency blanket it each bag. The silver ones are light weight, but will provide warmth if needed. Also, current photos of family members, as well as a short list of phone numbers of family and friends. We also included storm whistles in our boys’ go-bags. They carry these bags on hikes as well, so they’re always prepared.

  3. cj says:

    The caloric consideration is so important, and I find many gear-heads don’t address it. I recall one discussion where a scenario was given about being stranded for a week in the wilderness and what we’d bring. I was somewhat ridiculed when I indicated that, if I knew I’d be rescued in a week, I’d be sure to bring a good book since I’d be spending much of my time simply conserving calories. Apparently they’d all be running around expending thousands of calories obtaining a few calories of sustenance?

    I like your list, but also consider, when it comes to food…when you’re hungry enough, things that might not have been your first choice suddenly become much tastier!

    • Daniel Advisory says:

      Great point. Shelter, Water, Food – is the order, and in cold country you can easily burn 3000 cal a day just staying warm. Theres a reason why MREs are 2500+ per ONE meal. Try coming up with that much in roots, berries, rabbiits, even if you DID know how to forage…

  4. max says:

    Pencils not a pen, and consider also a grease pencil for marking difficult surfaces. A pencil can sit in a bug-out bag for years and still write, a pen is questionable even replaced every 6 months.

  5. Wacky Hermit says:

    We assigned each child to be in charge of something that fits their age and personality. My oldest, who wants to become a doctor, is in charge of the first aid supplies. My germophobe is in charge of the hygiene supplies. My Boy Scout carries the tools.

    Also, ramen packets are really good for cheap bug-out-bag food options. They are lightweight and can be eaten dry, or “cooked” by merely soaking them. It’s boring fare, but if it’s the difference between you having a bug-out-bag and not having one because of the expense or weight, go for the ramen.

    • libertytree says:

      I think it’s just great that the little ones each have a specialty and operate like a team. It’s really terrific. I would like to add that, considering emergency situations like an earthquake or even war, it’s likely that even though it’s our worst fear, we may lose a member of our family. It’s ideal to ensure each family member has adequate individual shelter, water treatment, first aid, and fire starting. Other individual gear may also prove vital for survival in certain emergency situations.

  6. Jim Oberg says:

    My kids and now grandkids bugout-bag also contains sidewalk chalk to leave messages on high walls or rocks, to guide rejoin and return movement. Chalk is LIGHT.

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  8. Dean says:

    If it gets this bad, all you need is a gun, ammo and you bible!

  9. Pingback: SayUncle » Bugging out with kids

  10. Hpeacock says:

    Thank you for this article! I have been trying to make bug out bags for my kids and it is not as easy as it looks! Kids come with there own special set of needs… I would also add diapers or pull ups, because a wet cranky kid is not a good travel mate, also diaper paste, it is good for many things not just diaper rash. I also keep a change of socks and extra shoes in my kids bags, I always try and keep a size to large for them so I don’t have to change them weekly ;[)].

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