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When it comes to prepping for kids, a lot of it will just be duplicating items which are already in your preps. Depending on the age and maturity this may mean getting an extra to put in their bags or just carrying extra in your own in case they need it. Another issue with kids is you need to be prepared to reassess your preps frequently as they grow to make sure the contents reflect what would be of use to the child now or in the next couple years. The last thing you’d want is to experience an emergency and find that all you have packed for your five year old to wear is some size 2T clothing.
Speaking of clothing, these are the basics I keep stored in with each child’s bag. I usually choose items that are a size or two larger than the child is wearing right then. Then once the child starts to outgrow the size I put in I’ll rotate it out for another set that is again a couple sizes bigger. That way I only need to switch it out a couple times a year for young babies/toddlers and every year or two for kids. If emergency hits and the items are a bit big for them, I don’t think that’s a big deal. You can also click here for a list more specific to young babies.
- Shorts or thin pants (for warmer weather)
- Sweatshirt/sweatpants set (the loose fit would allow for easy layering if it gets cold)
- 3 pairs socks
- 3 pairs underwear
- Warm hat and gloves/mittens
- Sturdy poncho or waterproof windbreaker (typically rolls up much smaller than a jacket but would provide an extra layer of protection if needed)
All of the clothing I keep packed in ziplocs to ensure it’s dry if needed. Then there are basics that they don’t outgrow:
- Hairbrush and/or comb
- Toothbrush(es) and a case or ziploc to keep clean between uses
- Water bottle and water filter
- Snacks like granola bars or fruit leather
- Emergency blankets
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Lightsticks (Glowsticks)
- Work gloves (protect hands when collecting firewood, etc)
- If desired, identity or emergency contact information.
Kids have a short attention span and can be very affected by chaos around them. So for me packing a bag of emergency supplies is only half “necessary” items and then the other half is made up of items to support them mentally. Tools for learning, for using their imagination, for occupying their mind in a stressful situation – this is important to me.
- Notebook and pens, pencils, and/or crayons. Kids can write out thoughts, draw pictures, or use to practice skills (spelling, math, etc.)
- Travel games. Depending on the age range, looking for travel games is a great place to start when packing a kid’s emergency bag. Look for checkers with a cloth board, magnetic games of hangman or scrabble, etch a sketch or similar, playing cards, Uno, etc. You can pack several of these for each child and they’ll have a nice selection that fits in a compact space.
- Age appropriate fiction books. Pack something that will transport their minds to another world and give them a break from whatever emergency is going on in reality. For young kids pack a book you’d read to them and a couple books for them to practice reading. For older kids, a selection of books on their reading level and a bit more challenging. One of my favorite book ideas is The Chronicles of Narnia. For really young kids some Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, or Amelia Bedelia.
- A jump rope, ball, or other physical toy. Something for them to work off pent up energy.
- Small photo album. Kids don’t have as many memories of family members and this can be a very comforting and important thing. You can get a small 4×6 album for $1 which will hold 20+ pictures and allow you to include pictures of your child with you and your spouse, with their siblings, pets, and of extended family like grandparents, aunts/uncles, et cetera. A bonus, it doesn’t take up much space at all.
These suggestions are just a start, but are compact enough to fit in a small backpack that most children would be able to handle carrying. If they have a bit more room and are more responsible other good options are fire starters, a knife and multitool, radio/walkie, etc. You can look at the adult lists for more ideas if you feel your child can handle a bit more responsibility. The more gear your family can carry, the better prepared everyone will be.