You’re prepared to leave your home during a wide-scale disaster.
The question is…
Are your kids up for it?
Prepping to bug out is a lot different when you have youngsters who depend on you.
You’re responsible for keeping them safe, healthy, and alive. It’s a major responsibility, but packing individual survival gear and supplies for each child will be a ton of help.
Here’s what you should know about building a bug out bag (BOB) for kids:
How to Build a Bug Out Bag for Kids
Your bug out bag helps you stay alive until you make it to your bug out location (BOL). That’s why it’s filled with survival supplies like emergency food, an entrenching tool, a tarp, and all that good stuff.
But a bug out bag for kids isn’t quite the same as yours.
Don’t get us wrong, this BOB is still geared toward survival. But it’s also designed more for comfort than emergency preparedness, especially when the youngest member of your family is barely out of diapers.
Events like civil unrest are terrifying enough when you’re an adult, so can you imagine how a small child would feel? They’ll need some toys and their beloved baby blanket to have a sense of security.
Here’s some advice that can help you:
Get Them Involved
Your kid should know every inch of their BOB the way they memorized the songs from that one Disney movie they’re obsessed with. Obviously, they can’t do this if you pack their bag for them and only bring it out when SHTF.
So, what should you do?
You guessed it — make your little guy (or girl) a part of the process.
This won’t be possible when they’re a baby, but once they start talking and can carry their own bag, you can let them help with assembling their bug out bag.
Ask your kid what stuff they would like to bring, whether it’s a toy or their go-to snack. When you give them a say, it lets them feel that the bag really belongs to them. You can veto anything outrageous but tell your youngster why bringing that specific item isn’t practical.
Your kiddo should understand why prepping a BOB is essential. Explain the reasons why your family might leave the house one day and how a bag packed with survival tools will help everyone stay safe.
Just try not to freak them out so much, though.
Keep It Light
Another thing you have to consider is how much your kid can carry.
It won’t make any sense to have your 8-year-old lug around a bag that weighs nearly as much as them. Ideally, it shouldn’t weigh more than 15% of their body weight.
Let your youngster try carrying their bag. If it’s too heavy, make adjustments. You’ll probably have to leave out some stuff or carry them in your own BOB if it is too heavy.
Let It Grow with Them
As your kiddo graduates from the potty to the big-kid toilet, their BOB should also level up. Don’t pack it once and then leave it in storage for 10 years. A pre-teen won’t have any use for baby formula.
Children grow up so darn fast, so their bug out bags will need constant modifying. We suggest checking every six months if the food is still suitable for your kid. If it isn’t, replace it. Do the same for clothes they’ve outgrown as well.
Don’t Make It Too Loud
Now, let’s talk about the actual bag itself.
What should it look like?
Well, this may come as a shocker, but it should look like something a kid would actually use. People WILL stare if you let your youngster carry a MOLLE backpack.
Their bug out bag doesn’t have to be a bland color like gray, but it shouldn’t stick out too much, either. That means no cartoon characters, superheroes, or anything else that would make it memorable.
You don’t wanna risk being remembered by folks who can sabotage your family’s journey to your bug out location.
What Survival Gear Should You Include in Your Kid’s BOB?
While each kid is unique, your youngster’s age and level of independence will generally dictate what SHTF gear and supplies their bug out bag should have.
Newborns will have to rely on you for everything, little kids likely won't know how to use a map and compass, and teenagers are responsible enough to carry BIC lighters (hopefully).
We kept this in mind as we narrowed down the items for each age group.
Take a look at them below:
Babies and Toddlers (0 Mos. - 3 Years Old)
Babies can’t wipe their own butts, much less tote around a bug out bag. Still, you should have a BOB for your newborn and carry it for them. If you have a toddler, though, you can let them bring a mini backpack with an extra shirt and maybe their favorite dino plush toy.
The majority of the stuff in this list will be yours to bring:
- Baby carrier sling
- Dry formula
- Water (specifically for the formula)
- Baby food (ex. Gerber)
- Baby bottles
- Diapers (cloth and disposable)
- Diaper pins
- Baby wipes
- Rash ointment
Kids and Pre-Teens (4 - 12 Years Old)
School-aged kids haul heavy school bags on weekdays, so they won’t have a problem carrying a BOB when the family hightails it out of the chaos and into safety.
Now unless your kiddo is a scout, they won’t have any use for a fire starter or paracord. But they know how to use a phone better than most adults and can use a whistle to signal for help or attention.
Here’s what kids and pre-teens should add to their BOB:
- Solar charger/power bank
- Tac light
- Recreation items (ex: coloring books, books, toys, an iPad)
- Sleeping bag
Teenagers are more independent than grade-schoolers (as they never fail to remind you) and they’re capable of taking on more responsibilities. There’s nothing wrong with letting your teen pack a ferro rod and a multitool in their BOB, as long as you’ve taught them how to use these.
A teen’s bug out bag can include:
- Solar charger/power bank
- Tactical flashlight
- Map and compass (only if they know how to navigate the old-school way)
- Multitool (or a wallet multitool to save more space)
- Recreation items (ex: card games, harmonica, books, Kindle or iPad)
- Tampons/sanitary napkins (if your teen is female)
- Basic first aid kit
- Fire starter (ex: BIC lighter, waterproof matches)
- Sleeping bag
Essentials for All Age Groups
While each age group has specific survival supplies they should pack in their BOBs, there are essentials that all of them need. These include:
- Snacks (ex: trail mix, chips, crackers)
- Water bottles
- Portable water filters
- Hand sanitizer
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Important documents and contacts
- Updated family photo (in case you get separated from each other)
- Prescription meds, inhalers, and other things that treat health conditions, if they have any
- N95 masks
- Extra clothes, underwear, and socks
Bugging out may be the best and only option when SHTF.
But that doesn’t make it any easier for your kids.
While you can’t stop a disaster from happening, you CAN help your youngsters prepare for it. You should teach them fundamental survival skills, of course. But you should also build them a bug out bag packed with things they see as familiar and comforting. This will help them cope with all the scary, confusing events going on.
Start assembling one right away and get your kiddos to help. Remember to keep it light, lowkey, and updated to ensure the BOB fulfills its purpose.
Did you like this article? You’ll enjoy the other posts we have about prepping and survivalism. Go check them out now!