Whether it’s a coming hurricane, civil unrest, or the zombie apocalypse, there are times when it’s prudent to gather your family and leave the area. As this often happens with very little prior warning, it’s smart to keep a bag filled with the absolute essentials, known as a bug out bag, or BOB.
A BOB carries enough essential items to get someone through three days of an emergency, in a bare survival situation. It will include basics such as water purification tablets, jerky and other dried foods, a poncho, space blanket, duct tape, and other small but crucial items.
If you have a family, bugging out becomes much more complicated. While many family members can share the same lighter for fire starting, each individual has their own need for food, clothing, and specialized equipment. It’s almost impossible to pack and carry everything into one bag. A smarter method is to carry the essentials yourself and create smaller individualized packs for your children.
Children’s Bug Out Bag
Children as young as three or four are used to carrying backpacks to preschool, so adding a light pack to their back shouldn’t be an unusual burden. The contents of each pack should be light, of course, weighing no more than a few pounds. But every item in the pack should be essential for the survival and well-being of the small pack’s owner. A number of packed items are only needed when you have small children in your party.
- Diapers or Pullups. Even the most well-trained toddler can have accidents in the stress of bugging out, and it’s much easier to change a pullup than a wet pair of pants in an emergency. Pullups are light and simple to pack and can double as a pillow if your kid doesn’t need them.
- Wet Wipes. Kids get messy, sticky, and dirty. Bugging out is a situation not exactly filled with bubble baths. A package of wet wipes can remove all sorts of nasty substances from your kids’ fingers before they use them to touch food or your face.
- Medication. If your child is on regular medication, be sure to include three days worth of it in their pack.
- Small Handheld Game. Check toy stores for small games with enclosed batteries. Some of them will last hundreds of hours. The simpler the better with these games. They may seem frivolous, but can be a lifesaver for stressed parents.
- Snacks. Children need to eat more often than adults, and this doesn’t change in an emergency situation. Pack fruit leather, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, or other healthy snacks that can withstand extreme heat and cold.
- Extra Clothing. Many adults bug out without packing any clothes, thinking they can survive for three days without changing. Small children can and will get twice as dirty as an adult in their group. Pack at least an extra shirt and pair of pants in each child’s pack, and add a zip sweatshirt for those small bodies with very little body fat.
- Weather Gear. Allow each child to carry his own poncho and space blanket, and add extras in each pack. They take up very little room, and spare protection is always useful when it comes to children.
Train Your Children
Teach your child about emergencies and bugging out as soon as he’s old enough to understand going on a trip. It doesn’t have to be a scary concept for kids; in fact, many of them look on it as an adventure unless the adults around them act otherwise.
Train your family to keep their BOBs in a closet near the front door or some other central place. Practice calling home and assembling the family, packs and all, at a central location. Make it second nature for the kids to wear their packs and you’ll avoid problems with kids not wanting to carry their packs in a true emergency.
As with an adult BOB, go through your children’s bags every six months to switch out any medication, snacks, or battery operated device and replace them with fresh supplies.
The editor of Resounding Earth, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.