*This post originally appeared on The Prepper Journal
Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Benjamin Burns. Benjamin talks about a subject so many of us have to consider. As my children get older and more self-sufficient my worries evolve as their needs and capabilities change, but prepping for disaster has to take everyone into consideration. If you have smaller children or even if you encounter someone who does, the tips below from Benjamin might help you or them out of a bad situation.
How ready are you for your children’s life after a disaster? Are they going to have the food they need? Will they get bored? These are things I started asking myself when I became a father. Since then, I have always taken my children into account when I plan. In this article I’m going to mention some things I have done that may help you prepare for taking care of your children after SHTF.
Obviously, your child’s age will also determine a lot. If you are expecting a five-year old to go from preschool and video games to protecting the house and growing a garden then you are very mistaken. You have to understand that children of all ages will take time to adapt to change. If you’ve never taken your child camping or hiking, how do you expect them to hike twenty miles to your bug out location? Children also are likely to mimic the attitude of their parents. When the lights suddenly go out, do not let them see you panic. If they see you being brave then they are likely to at least act brave.
Your level of preparedness will determine a lot about how to prepare stuff for your children. I am going to base most of this off of my plans which are to bug in. However, I will offer some input on bugging out with kids. We plan on a three-month bug in. That is three solid months of not going outside. This obviously depends on planting seasons and the threats in our area. My boys like being active so this plan presents a multitude of problems. Here is a list of simple things I have gathered for a two and ten-year old to occupy their time.
- A stack of coloring , word search, maze and other entertainment books.
- Three boxes of crayons.
- Two boxes of colored pencils.
- A case of blank, white paper.
- Several spiral notebooks.
- At least ten different board games.
- Playing cards and other card games.
This stuff is all that I have packed away in my supplies. My sons have other things to play with but I want them to also have brand new stuff to entertain them during our three months.
You can’t just rely on coloring and card games to entertain kids though. Kids will go crazy if they are expected to suddenly go from video games and TV shows to coloring books. I picked up an older pocket DVD player at a pawn shop. It works great on my rechargeable batteries and I have a solar-powered charger that I can charge my batteries with. We have headphones and splitter. This allows them both to quietly watch a movie when the power is off. Normally they don’t like the same movies but we always work it out. This way my sons can still enjoy some form of electronic entertainment, even if we have to bug out.
What help can you expect from your children during a disaster? Honestly, not as much as you want. Yes, a couple of teenage hunters with strong backs would be great but that’s not what I have so that’s not how I’m prepping. My ten-year old can hike at a slow pace for a couple of hours but not my two-year old. I found a shopping cart at yard sale and snatched it up for less than twenty bucks. This is our mode of transportation, if we have to walk. It may not be comfortable but with asleeping bag for a liner, it’s at least better than bare metal. We played with it a little and I can put both of them inside it, our packs clipped to the outside and a tarp over it all to keep them warm and dry. This is obviously our last resort for traveling. I may be strong but walking for eight hours, with a two-year old in my arms, is not an option I want to consider. I would be limited to two or three hours a day.
What about security?
I can not and would not expect my ten-year old to stand guard for any longer than it takes for me to use the bathroom or change a diaper. The only way I can think to provide security at night, while traveling, is to use traps. I have one of those tripwire traps that will trigger a shotgun shell. I plan on relying on this and some 550 cord with a couple bells attached. I fully realize that this is a poor nighttime defense but it’s my last resort for traveling with just my children. I’ll also be sleeping with my weapon in hand and our campsite will be hidden.
I just mentioned changing a diaper. That is something for a lot of people to think about. How many do you have? Do you have a single cloth diaper? I bought several inexpensive packs at Walmart. I tested them out on my son. They are a pain to clean. It took me a minute to figure out the right way to use them and my son kept playing with them but we finally got adjusted to them. The best part was that they didn’t make my son break out. Think about stuff like that.
Do you have feminine products for your daughter? Do you have enough formula for an extended disaster? What about over the counter baby medicine? I would have been almost as miserable as my son without his gas drops. Are your children diabetic? If so, have you looked online for how to make insulin? I saw an article a few months ago. It was complex looking. I would not want the first time I tried making it to be when my child is dying and the power is out. Print stuff like that out and practice it a few times. Your children should be the reason you prep.
Keep them happy, healthy and alive!