One day you could be chilling in your backyard, and the next, you could be evacuating from a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a nuclear attack. If you’re an experienced prepper, you could probably be ready to hit the road in a matter of minutes.
Children, however, don’t normally prepare for potential disasters on their own. If you have children, that job is up to you. So if you haven’t already, you need to make some bug out bags for your kids.
Other than dangerous items like knives and lighters, you’ll want to pack their bags with the same sort of bug out bag items you put in your own bag, like water and snacks.
The purpose of this post is to list all the additional items that children might need in a bug out scenario. To make it simpler, I divided into three sections: infants and toddlers, young children, and teenagers.
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Bug Out Bag Items for Infants and Toddlers
Disposable and Cloth Diapers
Even if your baby is using a cloth diaper, you still need to pack some disposable ones – and vice versa. In some cases, you won’t have time to change and wash the cloth diaper. You may not even have water to change and wash the cloth diaper. In other cases, you may eventually run out of disposable diapers before you’re able to return home.
Obviously, yes, you can use a diaper pin for its original purpose: to secure a cloth diaper. But diaper pins can also be used to create a DIY baby wrap which makes it easy to make haste with a baby on your back.
Breastfeeding might be your preferred way of feeding at home, but stressful situations might disrupt lactation, leaving you unable to produce milk. Carry powdered formula as a backup. Once a container of powdered baby formula is opened, it has a generous shelf life of one month.
With a bottle-feeding baby, you must be prepared with bottles that are super easy to clean – none of that plastic with hard-to-reach crevasses. Pack a lightweight, durable and easy-rinse silicone bottle from Comotomo Baby Bottle. Cleaning these bad boys is easy with a cup of hot water or a bottle cleaning wipe.
If you end up sleeping outdoors or in a shelter without electricity, you’ll need a lightweight thermal blanket to keep your baby warm for the night.
Instead of carrying a huge carton of big wipes, settle for the pocket-sized wipes. They get the job done when you need to wash baby’s hands or toys on the go.
Clothes for Older Babies
You have no idea how long you’ll be on the run, and babies grow fast. Make sure you bring clothes that are for babies in the age range just beyond your where your baby is now.
Some parents choose not to use a pacifier, but when you must absolutely quiet your child (say… when you’re hiding from zombies or aliens) – a pacifier is a literal life-saver.
Ointment and Lotions
Rash cream, baby powder, and sunscreen are must-haves for sensitive baby skin, especially outdoors. Here is a handy little kit by Johnson & Johnson that includes baby shampoo and body wash.
Strollers are out of the question in a disaster situation. For light packing, stick to a baby wrap that is great for multiple ages and sizes. If you imagine you’ll be on foot for a long time, have a high-quality baby backpack ready to go – many of these backpacks can accommodate infants as they grow into toddlers.
Toddlers and infant snacks can overlap – cheerios, purees, and soft fruit are smart carries. However, while you can get the infants to eat just about anything, the toddlers start to get picky. Pay attention to your toddler’s preferences and update their emergency snacks often.
Bug Out Bag Items for Young Children (ages 4-12)
Clothes for the Season
Update your kid’s bug out bags year-round. If it’s rainy season, throw in a lightweight rain jacket. If it’s winter, thermal socks and underwear. Summer? Breathable, REI-style clothes that can go from day to night – these zip-off pants are a great idea. And remember, no brightly colored clothes that could give away your hidding spot.
Waterproof Walking Shoes
Regular sneakers aren’t going to survive the terrain for long, so make sure you get your kids some waterproof hiking shoes. You can find tons of comfortable and padded ones online. Once winter rolls around, have some children’s winter boots on hand, as well. Be sure to check the fit every six months.
It might seem like a waste to carry around entertainment in a time like this, but your children’s brains can experience fatigue just as quickly as their feet. Keep them comfortable with non-battery toys or lightweight books.
Around this age, kids can pick up on what’s going on around them. To keep your child both emotionally and psychologically balanced during stressful times, carry their baby blanket or favorite stuffed animal.
You aren’t guaranteed complete nutrition when on the run. Be it lack of food or lack of balanced diet, you’ll need to supplement with a children’s multivitamin to keep their energy up.
Kids are curious. In case of a wander gone wrong, have your child carry a whistle and teach them when to use it. Make sure it’s a survival whistle because a toy one might not be loud enough.
Bug Out Bag Items for Teenagers
Pocket Knife or a Multi Tool
Equip your child to be as self-sufficient as possible with survival tools and self-defense weapons (if the situation calls for it). A Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman tool are classic choices. While sharp enough and versatile enough to provide survival skills, these tools aren’t as dangerous as standard weapons.
A rain jacket, a mat, and a tarp all in one. This is one item that every teenager should be carrying. It’s waterproof to protect from storms and it’s camouflage to act as an invisibility cloak in emergencies.
Teenager Hiking Outfit
Head over to REI or your nearest outdoors store and find some lightweight, hiking quality pants that zip into shorts, lightweight rain jacket, thermal socks, and hiking boots. Just be sure to check your kids’ size every six months… teenagers grow quickly.
Your child is old enough to carry their own weight now. They might complain about it, but soon it will become normal for them – as long as what they are carrying is reasonably lightweight and compact. A Mylar Thermal Blanket is waterproof and heat-deflecting, while also being convenient to carry.
Take the time to teach your teenager how to build a fire with a simple fire-starting tool. This Magnesium Fuel Bar, Flint and Steel Kit immediately empowers your kid to cook and create heat if need be.
A Compass and a Map
A compass is useless if your kid doesn’t know how to use it. Map out your backyard with your teenager. Is your river north of the road? Is your house west of the highway? Give them some landmarks, a map, and practice with this Paracord Compass Bracelet.
First Aid Kit
A simple, pre-packed first aid kit will do. Iodine, antiseptic, Band-Aids – it’s all here. Teach them the purpose of each item and quiz them on it later.
When packing our family’s Bug Out Bags, we must remember that packing for a kid is entirely different from packing for an adult. Kids are still growing, kids get tired faster, and kids don’t have the mental strength that us adults have.
On that note, be sure to add a personal touch to each Bug Out Bag. Make sure that your child’s mind and emotions are also accounted for. You can do this by including them while putting the bag together, sewing their name into the bag, tucking a special photo into the pocket of the bag… something that will cheer your child up when their spirits are low.
And remember, we can’t plan for a disaster but we can be prepared. Don’t wait to put this bag together, because disasters can strike at any time.