If you do not homeschool,a bugout bag for kids should be an essential part of your preparedness plan. The bags should include a basic first aid kit, a map with the route home highlighted, directions to survival caches along the route, several nutritional bars and a survival straw in their school backpack. The child, regardless of age, must be taught how to respond if at school or on a field trip when disaster strikes. A teacher will not allow a student to simply ignore the shelter in place and wait for help rules that the district likely has in place.
Children cannot even take toy guns to play with at recess like we could as youngsters, so placing any type of self-defense item in a backpack is not an option. Survival caches buried between home and school offer not only additional food, water, and first aid supplies, but age appropriate self-defense items as well. Several bottles of mace and a knife will not offer much help when faced with an armed individual, but possessing such items would at least give your child some small way to defend himself.
A teenage girl would be an easy and enticing target to seedy male characters she could encounter on the walk home from school during a disaster, even if the trek is only a short distance. Teaching your child both when and how to defy authority and head for home could be key to their survival. If you have multiple children in different school buildings, they should know where to meet and how long to wait for each other before going it alone. Message threads will prevent children from aimlessly searching for one another or wasting valuable time and possibly encountering danger waiting in the designated spot, not realizing their sibling had already left the area.
Young children without an older sibling to guide them will be left at the mercy of others and possibly not be able to leave the school and travel home, or to a meeting point, alone. If the power grid attack destroys the computer systems in cars, the 10 mile walk to reach your child’s school will surely feel like it is taking an excruciatingly long time. Imagine how long it would take you to reach your child’s kindergarten classroom if you happened to be on crutches with a broken ankle when disaster strikes? As you limp along the highway to the school, placing yourself in extreme danger since it would be difficult to pull, aim, and fire a gun while on crutches, your little girl is huddled in fear crying out for mommy or daddy in her classroom.
Long before I became aware of the need to prepare beyond the typical fully-stocked “mom purse” level, I chaperoned a kindergarten class field trip to a zoo about 80 miles away from the school. Yes, a two-hour bus ride with young children is something you will never forget. At the time I was working in the education field, running several youth sports leagues, and was a Girl Scout leader – so I was well aware of the stress the day would bring. Although the dedicated teachers and well-intentioned parents thought the group was well prepared for every possible contingency, we would have found ourselves woefully lacking if the power grid failed while touring the gorilla habitat with the kiddos. Just imagine attempting to walk 125 5-year-olds about 80 miles during a disaster.
If the field trip had been for middle or high school students, the excursion home would have been extremely difficult without adequate provisions, no means of self-defense, and a host of youths who likely spent more time playing on the smart phones than learning any self-reliance skills. Even a well-trained teen would be so far away from the emergency caches buried between the school and home that he or she would surely struggle along the journey.
Homeschooling is truly the best option for both safety and educational reasons. A host of homeschool programs, support and activity groups, and even free online course are readily available. Treca Digital Academy offers a comprehensive curriculum and includes the options to take dual-credit courses for college at no cost and is just one of many quality homeschool programs offered in the United States.
Even if you opt for an online homeschooling program, an adult must still be in the home with the children when they participate in the learning process. If a stay at home mom or work from home parent situation is not currently an option, perhaps a grandparent or a hired “babysitter” could assume the supervisory duties until a permanent solution can be figured out. Prepper parents that are part of a mutual assistance group could perhaps educate children in a central location and rotate the homeschooling responsibilities.
Living a self-reliant lifestyle or being a prepper does not mean that you are constantly huddled together and never enjoy a family trip or excursions away from town. Before you or your children leave for an activity pack the car and backpacks as if it is a given the return trip would be on foot, lengthy, and full of obstacles. Hiding caches along a vacation route or between your son’s girlfriend’s house and your own will take a bit of extra time and money – but the health and well-being of your loved ones is priceless.
Bugout bags, INCH bags, and get me home bags, should be compiled for everyone in the family. The bugout bags should contain enough food, sheltering items, water filtration equipment, fire starters, and a first aid kit for the carrier to survive for 72 hours after leaving the home. An INCH bag is a more serious version of a bugout bag. These will be heavier and contain more in-depth survival gear, since the carrier does not expect to ever return.A get me home bag is a version of the bugout bag that is packed with items designed to get the carrier back home from about an hour or two away on foot. Disasters both regional and national can strike at any time. The get me home bag in your trunk will come in quite handy when hoofing it home from an evening out to do dinner and a movie 35 miles away from home.
Although determining every item that should be included in a get-home bag will differ from person to person, the basic tools and gear needed are the same. When planning a bag supply list, carefully consider the types of natural disasters which are common in your region and address those needs first when budgeting for bag contents. A power grid down scenario, terrorist attack, or civil unrest can occur everywhere, but severe winter storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes are more prone to specific regions of the country and should be among the primary concerns when determining how preparedness funds will be spent.
[Image via: Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates]