Survival Kids Style

Just look in the papers or watch the evening news and you will eventually find a story of a child lost in the wilderness. More often than not these stories come to a bitter end.

Survival Kids Style

I have a wife and 3 young boys, and a child on the way. Needless to say, these stories hit way too close to home. That's why I needed to write this article.

A child's survival kit is different from an adult's in both function and form. When we think of adult kits we envision elaborate yet small kits full of knives, fishing gear, and countless fire starters. While these items do help us survive, they become a danger to our young children. We will go over what should go in a kids kit, and how to use it.

First let's talk about what the kit should be contained in. I have found that a brightly colored fanny pack is the best way to go. Bright colors so it doesn't get lost, and also as a sort of beacon for rescue. I like the fanny pack because a child doesn't seem to want to take it off and leave it behind like a backpack. It should be large, but not so large it becomes uncomfortable for the child. We just want enough room to fit all the gear listed below. It should also be large enough to hold 2 small bottles of water, or at least have 2 outer pockets for water bottles. Once again try to get a bright color, and it's a good idea to label it on the inside with the child's emergency information. These packs are cheap and easy to find in any sporting goods store.

Many of the items in the kit will be found in our own homes. This makes it easier for us to put together, and not to put off until later. Below is a list of gear and later we will go over uses. If you have other ideas that might be useful, please put them in. This is just a basic children's kit.

-2 full bottles of water
-survival water purification straw
-a good LED flashlight
-2 snap lights 12 hr
-a loud survival type whistle
-a large trash bag with a face window torn in it. ( more on this later )
-at least 2 energy bars or equivalent
-a small toy or stuffed animal
-a bright bandanna

As you can see there are no knives, fire starters, fishing items, or first aid supplies. These could be dangerous or useless to a small child. Now if you have an older child that can use these items, please put them in. Don't use them in a small child's kit.

As you can see most of these items are around the house. The only things you may need to get are the snap-lights and the survival straw. The whistle could be a toy one, but they don't work as well as the survival type. It's important to have a good signaling device, so you might have to buy the whistle.

Now its just up to you to keep the water bottles full and fresh, the flashlights working, and the food bars in date. Also you will have to tear a hole in the trash bag so it is like a poncho, and provides a breathing hole. Don't cut the hole or it will rip more. "Why not just buy a poncho"? You may ask. Well, this keeps it an in your house item, and also they are stronger that the cheap ponchos you find that would fit in a kit. Most of the other contents of the kit are self explanatory, but we will go over a few in kind of a what you should do scenario.

Teach your children how to use each item in the kit, and then go over a scenario like below:

As soon as you discover that you have become separated from an adult, and find yourself lost in the woods, the first thing you should do is STOP! If you continue to wander you could be harder to find by your parents or rescuers. Some tell the child to hug or sit by a tree. Next take out your shelter (trash bag) and put it on, then begin to blow your whistle. Blow in sets of 3 and then wait to hear a response. It may be good to have a string on the whistle so the child can have it around there neck. I like a quick break away necklace for safety. Tell the child to blow the whistle in the set of 3 for a little while, and then to take a break. If no one comes, they may have to stay in the shelter for a while until they are found. This is where the toy comes in as a comfort. But it is important to continue to blow the whistle off and on for the entire time they are lost.

If they have to spend the night this will be scary. The flashlight should help. That is why it should be a LED light. They last twice as long as a bulb light. You have the light sticks for backup. Make sure they know to turn off the flashlight before they go to sleep.
The water in the bottles will last a little while, but the child might have to find other water if rescue is not in the area before they run out. If they must go looking for water, take all their gear, but mark where they were for rescue with the bandanna. Once they find more water, that is the new "camp" they should not leave. The supply should be small like a puddle or stream. Large lakes can be a danger, unless they have to use one. Use the straw to drink the newly found water. This is the item in the kit that is a must. We don't last long without water, so this move in "camp" may be necessary.

The food bars won't last too long in the kit, but if they have stayed in one or two spots signaling often, then rescue has a better chance. The body can go a lot longer than you think without food. This is something to talk about with your child, so the food is saved until they really need it. All you can do is try and pack as much as you can. If the child is older they might be able to be taught to eat bugs or plants, but this isn't very safe. Again if you think of other things that might work well in the kit, put it in. These kits are all they have if they are alone.

Talk to your children about these things often. Then do it again before each trip into the woods. You may be saying "I would never let my kid get lost," but trust me we all make mistakes. Better Safe Than Sorry.

-Jimmie Foster

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