Before I had kids, life was so much simpler. Quieter, too, but definitely simpler, especially when it came to emergency preparedness. So let’s back up a few decades…
When I was single, I stored certain items for just myself. I stored the food I like, and I made sure to have enough water for myself to last several days. I kept a jacket, gloves and hat that fit me for winter weather. That same set of winter wear stayed in my bug-out bag for years! Once I got married, I had someone else to take into consideration. Now we needed twice as much food and water, and extra shoes and clothes to fit him. The list of things we needed expanded to be enough for two adults, and we even got a two-man tent, just in case we needed it. But once we had a baby (and then another, and another…) the list of things that needed to be stored for emergencies grew quite a bit!
Maybe you haven’t thought about it, but babies and children (of various ages) need some different things than adults. Let’s take a look at what things need to be taken into consideration.
First, there is the matter of food. Many children are fussy eaters, and you will need to plan around that with what you store. While adults may be able to eat whatever they can get during an emergency, kids are often resistant to unfamiliar tastes and smells when they are stressed, like during an emergency. One great idea is to get the Grab and Go pack and let them periodically have the various foods you will be storing, so that if the time ever comes that you need to rely on this food, they won’t turn it down as something totally foreign. And remember, some of your food storage can be in the form of wheat or other flour, sugar, oil, etc., and so you might want to have a cookbook on hand with recipes that use the items you have stored. It’s also a good idea to take your child’s tastes in mind and store some things that your child specifically likes to eat. Does your child love peanut butter and jelly? Then that’s a food to stock up on. The benefit to this is that you can use them on a regularly basis as well as in an emergency, which makes these items particularly easy to rotate. Don’t neglect things your kids actually love to eat.
Water, cool, clear water…Please plan ahead for water. For adults, the rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day, with consideration for medical issues, climate, etc. But water needs are higher for children and nursing mothers than for other adults. If your child is fed artificial infant milk (formula) instead of breastmilk, your water usage will be even greater, so plan accordingly.
Clothing is a very important consideration for an emergency. Remember those winter clothes that I had ready in my bug-out bag for years? That won’t work with children, since they grow so fast. They need you to store extra clothing for the current size, perhaps even some items in the next size up, so that you can be sure they will have clothes to fit. Don’t forget shoes for your children. Their shoes will either be on their feet when disaster strikes, or should be close at hand – under their bed, in their closet, near the front door of your home, or somewhere else they could be easily grabbed in an emergency. The clothing you store should be rotated regularly, whenever you change the size of clothing your child is wearing. Depending on your child, this could be as often as every couple of months (for a baby or toddler) or every six months with an older child.
Other baby supplies such as diapers, wipes, and medicines used regularly (diaper creams, infant acetaminophen, teething tablets, etc.) are important to have accessible in an emergency. If any of your medicines are by prescription, be sure to get some to store, or remember to grab it if you need to leave in a hurry.
Many people choose to get an ID bracelet for their child, in case of separation from adults who know them, especially if they are going on vacation and will be in totally unfamiliar territory to both the adults and children. Remember, in a natural disaster, it is easy for people to get separated from each other, and any form of identification can help. You should also have contact information for friends and relatives on a card in the backpack of their emergency preparedness stuff. Also, if you have your child immunized, be sure those Immunizations are kept up-to-date.
All of these items for your baby or child – and even more, depending on the age and maturity of your child – can be stowed in a backpack; in fact each child can and should have a separate backpack if they are old enough and responsible enough. It can be good for children to have a “job” in an emergency, because it helps them feel empowered and useful. They can even plan to carry their own backpack in the event of a bug-out.
In summary, one great way to prepare ahead for your children in a disaster is to have a designated backpack for each child. Inside, you might have some food, water, a small first aid kit, a flash light or glow sticks (never candles and matches), a battery-powered radio, a whistle, and extra set of clothing, a family photo, a listing of friends and relatives, and something for them to do like a coloring book and crayons, or a book to read or puzzles to solve.
Though it is more work to be prepared in an emergency if you have children, it isn’t that hard…Just think of what you use regularly, and consider the ideas in this post, and you’ll do just fine.