In the United States, it is estimated that nearly 60 percent of children live in homes that are not prepared for disasters. This means that if a disaster strikes, these children and their families are at risk for serious injury or even death.
Disasters can strike at any time and often without warning. As adults we have the capability to understand what is happening, when it happens. But our children struggle to understand the consequences of these disasters and what it could mean in the moment, and even long term.
This doesn’t mean that they cannot understand, or cannot be prepared.
The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) shared this back in 2016: “A community’s resilience and ability to rebound from a crisis can be measured by its ability to care for its children, who are one of the most vulnerable populations in an emergency.”
They then went on to say “And many parents are not confident that their children will be protected and are not aware of what plans schools have made to be sure that children are safe in case of a catastrophic event in their community.”
Our children deserve to be protected and prepared and a good place to start is to teach them skills that are relevant to navigating disasters but that can go beyond just that.
This article will hopefully provide some insight into how you can help your children know what to do when disaster strikes.
What Age Should Kids Start Prepping
For many parents, the idea of teaching their children how to prepare for a disaster or emergency situation can be daunting. But it's important to remember that prepping is not just about stockpiling supplies or learning how to use a gun. It's about having the knowledge and skills necessary to survive in any situation.
Raising children to be (somewhat) self-sufficient can help them become more resilient and able to think on their feet.
Although, children should be taught skills that are age appropriate. For example, a 2 year old probably shouldn’t be learning how to make a fire, that would be more appropriate for an 8-10 year old.
As a starting point focus on teaching basic survival skills like building a shelter, finding clean water, and creating a fire. You can also teach them basic first aid and how to properly use a flashlight.
There’s no correct answer to this question, only that you should take note of what your child is interested in and work with them. Stressing the idea of ‘prepping’ will most likely make activities tedious and boring for them.
Make It Fun
The good news is that there are plenty of age-appropriate prepping activities that kids of all ages can participate in. Here are just a few ideas and resources:
Free online tools
Ready.gov has so many free resources and games for all different ages to help you educate your children on disasters, while keeping it fun. This is not just for parents, but for teachers too.
Camping is a great way to teach children the skills they need to survive in any situation.
Backpacking and camping require children to be self-sufficient and resourceful. They learn how to build shelter, find food and water, and possibly even take care of themselves in an emergency. These are all essential skills that will come in handy if they ever find themselves in a real-life disaster situation.
Camping also teaches children how to work together as a team. In an emergency situation, it's important to be able to rely on others. By working together on camping trips, children learn how to trust and depend on each other, which will be crucial if they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation.
Build a campfire
A campfire is not only a fun way to spend an evening, but it can also be a valuable tool for teaching children about disaster preparedness. By learning how to build a campfire, children can gain the skills they need to prepare for a variety of potential disasters.
Building a campfire requires planning and attention to detail, both of which are essential for disaster preparedness. Children must gather the right materials, such as wood and kindling, and then carefully build the fire to ensure that it will stay lit.
Once the campfire is lit, children must also be careful to tend it and keep it under control. If the fire gets out of hand, it can quickly become a danger. This teaches children the importance of monitoring their surroundings and taking action immediately if something goes wrong.
Add some sticks and marshmallows to the mix to keep it fun, but try to engage in conversation around the topic at hand.
Geocaching or treasure hunts
Geocaching or treasure hunts are a great way to get children excited about disaster prep. By hiding caches of supplies around the house or neighborhood, children can learn to be resourceful and self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.
These treasure hunts can also teach children important map-reading and navigation skills, as well as how to read a compass. With some basic supplies and a little imagination, you can turn your home into an adventure playground that will help your kids be prepared for anything.
Know how to swim
At the most basic level, knowing how to swim can save your child’s life, while also giving them the opportunity to help save someone else’s life.
There is still a significantly high number of Americans who do not feel comfortable with their swimming skills, and these are not just children, adults too. So even if you, as an adult, do not feel comfortable in the water or were never given the opportunity to learn, allow your child the opportunity and confidence to learn how to swim.
Visit your local fire station
A great way to introduce them to the concept of prepping is by taking a trip to your local fire station. Here they can learn about fire safety and what to do in an emergency situation. Not only that, but they will be able to identify a place of safety in the event of an emergency.
Your child will be able to see firsthand the equipment that firefighters use and how they work together as a team. They'll also learn about the importance of having an escape plan and how to stay calm in a crisis.
Visiting the fire station is a fun and educational experience for kids of all ages. It's a great way to teach them about the importance of being prepared for anything.
Build A Disaster Kit for Kids
We have a couple blogs on how to prep within your home, and building a 72 hour emergency kit, but we encourage you to build your emergency kits with your children. With each person having their own, it is especially important to know how each backpack is packed and how to use it.
Consider adding something personal to your child’s kit, or let them choose something to put it. This can help to make an emergency situation less stressful for them and they’ll have an item to offer them comfort.
At the end of the day, you can only do what you can and within the means that you have. Have conversations about natural disasters with your children not just for them to know what to do but so that they also understand that these things happen around the world and we can all play a part in helping.
Our water filters are perfect for adding to an emergency kit, or bug out bag, and are light enough for even the kids to carry!