For most parents, keeping their children safe in a disaster scenario is a higher priority than even their own safety. However, small children can be a major liability in disastrous situations, so it’s important to thoroughly consider them when stocking up on emergency supplies.
In this article, we’ll look at 20 emergency supplies for your children as well as a few other important considerations for disaster prepping with children.
Taking Care of Children During an Emergency
When dealing with children during an emergency, you have three main priorities: keeping them safe, keeping them healthy, and keeping them calm. Of course, all of these things are easier said than done, but having the right plan and right supplies in place will go a long way toward helping you accomplish these three priorities.
Start by developing a disaster plan that includes your children and focuses on any challenges they might force you to contend with. When practicing aspects of this plan such as a bug out, include your children and have them practice with you. If you make it into a game, chances are they’ll be happy to go along.
Once you have a plan that includes your children and have practiced that plan with them, start gathering the supplies you’ll need to keep your children safe, healthy, and calm. Below, we’ll list those supplies, but keep in mind that every family is unique, so you will need to give plenty of thought to your situation and the unique needs of your children when gathering supplies for them.
Also note that in a bug out scenario, it may be beneficial to have your child carry some of their own supplies in a small backpack if they are old enough to do so. Not only will this allow you to carry more supplies, it will ensure your child has important necessities in case that they are separated from you.
Taking care of children can be challenging in normal circumstances, and in a disaster scenario, it is doubly so. However, with the right plan and the right supplies, it is certainly a challenge you can overcome.
Now to be clear, this is not a comprehensive list of every survival item a child might need in an emergency. Most of your emergency supplies—food, first aid, flashlights, and so forth—can be used by children as well.
Rather, this is a list of items to get in addition to your regular emergency supplies.
Emergency Supplies for Children
1. Extra Clothes
You’ll want to have a few changes of clothes available for your children in a bug-out scenario, especially if they are still in the “accident” phase.
If your child has not yet been potty trained, the necessity for having plenty of diapers around goes without saying.
3. Gatorade Powder
Your kids will probably get tired of drinking room temperature water all day, so they probably won’t drink enough and could end up dehydrated. To avoid this, get some powdered drink mix such as Gatorade. This will help keep your kids hydrated.
For children that have not yet moved on to solid food, formula is a must. Even if your child is breastfed, you’ll still want to have some formula around both for convenience and in the event of an emergency. In addition to formula, be sure to carry at least one bottle and nipple.
5. Mini Trash Bags
By nature, most children are messy. From dirty diapers to empty snack wrappers, there’s a lot of trash you may need to dispose of when traveling extended periods of time with a child. For this reason, having some mini trash bags is essential.
Not only are snacks necessary for helping your children keep their energy up between meals, they’re also a comfort that can help put kids at ease in high-stress situations.
Candy may not have a lot of nutritional value, but it can be used to either reward children or keep them appeased when tensions are high. Don’t just get one kind, though. Get a variety pack.
8. Crayons and Paper
One of the foremost goals for handling children in a disaster scenario is to keep them distracted and at ease as much as possible. Some paper and a box of crayons doesn’t take up a lot of room in a bug out bag and can provide hours of relaxing entertainment to small children.
9. Activity Books
Coloring books, crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, and more. Anything to keep them busy and distracted. Here’s one that has a little bit of everything.
10. Wet Wipes
If your child is still wearing diapers, wet wipes are a must. Even if they are not, though, wet wipes are still great for quickly cleaning up messes such as a food-smeared face.
11. Spill-Proof Cups
Water and other drinks may be in short supply during a disaster, making it important not to waste any in an accidental spill. Putting your child’s drinks in spill-proof cups not only helps avoid costly waste, it can help you avoid inconvenient messes as well. I recommend this even if your child is a little too old for sippy cups. Again, it’s just to make sure nothing goes to waste.
Children’s books are a great way to keep kids calm and distracted in a high-stress situation, and thanks to E-readers such as the Kindle, you don’t have to pack a bunch of individual books. With a Kindle, you can store thousands of children’s books – complete with pictures and all – on one single device, providing a lot of entertainment value compared to the amount of space that it takes up.
13. Ear Plugs
The more your child sleeps during the long trip of a bug out, the better. To help them fall asleep in spite of the noises in the vehicle, pack along a pair of comfortable earplugs.
A few simple toys can help keep your child occupied and calm when stresses are running high. Toys are especially beneficial for keeping kids calm if your child already has an emotional connection to them, so consider letting them play with the toys before disaster strikes.
15. List of Emergency Phone Numbers
Having your child separated from you during a disaster is the worst-case scenario and is something that should be avoided at all costs. However, it’s also something that you should prepare for by having your child carry a list of emergency phone numbers that anyone who finds your child will be able to call.
16. Pictures of Family Members
If your child is lost, having a picture of his or her parents or other family members to show people could help them be reunited lot faster.
Don’t forget your child’s toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, and any other bathroom items they use on a regular basis. Keep them organized by putting them all in a freezer bag.
18. Sleeping Bag
Don’t forget a small sleeping bag for your child. In order to get them used to it, take them camping this summer. Or at least go camping in the backyard. It’s fun, and once they’re comfortable with their sleeping bag, they’ll do much better during a bug out.
If for some reason you have to travel at night, keep in mind that children are much more likely to stumble and fall, especially if it’s dark. You could give your child a flashlight, but smaller children might just play with it. Instead, put headlamps on them so they can see every step.
Give them a whistle to wear around their necks so they can call for help if they’re lost or in danger.
I’m sure there are other items you could include. That’s why you should practice your bug out plan a few times, so you can see if there are any other emergency supplies your children might need. Leave a comment below if you have any suggestions.