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We can never be certain when the next major disaster will strike, but one thing we can be certain of: disasters do not strike when it’s convenient for us. As a parent, I wish I had the power to make sure there isn’t ever a disaster that disrupts my children’s lives, at least not until they’re old enough to handle themselves. But that’s not how it works. I need to do everything I can to make sure I’ll be able to take care of them if a disaster strikes while they’re still young. That means I’ve had to acquire many extra supplies.
This article is not meant to be a comprehensive list of everything one should do to prepare children for disasters. Rather, it’s just a few ideas and suggestions for parents.
This is pretty obvious, but I want to point out a couple of things. First, if you’re breast feeding your infant, you still need to stock up on plenty of formula. I know some people are against formula and that’s fine, but what if something happens to mom? How are you going to feed your baby? The cheapest option is to get cases of formula at Costco or Sam’s Club. Make sure the formula has DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain and eye development. Another option is to make your own baby formula.
Second, if your child is older, make sure you have plenty of variety in your food supplies. I’ve mentioned the dangers of appetite fatigue before, but with children it’s an even greater danger. Just having some snacks and candy isn’t enough. You need no less than seven types of meals—one for each day of the week—and plenty of seasonings so you can vary the flavors of your meals.
You might already have a year’s supply of food for your child, but do you have a year’s supply of clothes? Kids grow fast (or so I’m told), so make sure you’re at least a year ahead. I know this can be expensive, but if you check out Goodwill stores and yard sales on a regular basis you’ll come across some great deals. Yes, some of these clothes won’t be all that great looking, but kids always get their clothes dirty, anyway. And the younger ones won’t remember if you dress them up like Waldo. Another thought: Get some belts for your child so he/she can start wearing pants that are still a little too big.
This can be a problem because a year’s worth of diapers would take up a lot of space. I suggest you get as much you can reasonably store. Beyond that, you should get some cloth diapers. I know these are a hassle to clean, but if you have a good source of clean water (such as a well or a nearby stream) and plenty of detergent, they’re definitely worth it. Cloth diapers are expensive, but in the long run you’ll save hundreds of dollars because they’re reusable. You also won’t have to bury trash bags full of dirty diapers every week.
I was surprised to find that most survival stores don’t offer survival kits for children. I finally found one from 1-800-Prepare called My First Emergency Kit (seen on the right). It comes with a port a potty, solar blanket, food, water, diapers, crayons, coloring book, etc. If you’d rather put together a kit yourself, I suggest you check out the link anyway because there’s a great list of what to include.
If you’re an experienced parent, I’d be very grateful for any suggestions you might have. Please post them in the comments section below.