emergency preparedness with children

Disaster Prepping with Children: From Infancy to Adolescence

As a parent, there is probably nothing more terrifying than having a disaster strike and not being prepared. 

Our children are much more susceptible to disasters than we are -- both physically and emotionally -- and it is up to us to make sure they can get through it.

This guide covers all aspects of disaster prepping with children from infancy to their teenage years. 

1. Disaster Preparedness for Infants

emergency supplies for infants

Infancy doesn’t last that long, and there is already so much chaos around the new baby that you might be tempted to skip disaster prep for your young one.

However, infants are a lot more susceptible to disasters than adults or even small children.  Their weak immune systems means that even mild cases of water contamination or an infected wound can lead to death.

Even when the infant isn’t actually at risk, I’ve seen parents freak out from worry about their infant during emergencies.  Have supplies and a plan and you will be able to better handle the disaster.


Breastfed Infants

Breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed your baby in an emergency.  No preparation, sterilization, or heating is required.   In a report about preparedness, the International Journal of Breastfeeding even goes as far as saying that, 

quote-left

Exclusive breastfeeding could be considered an emergency preparedness activity.

However, you should never rely on breast milk alone.

While stress and trauma generally won’t affect a mother’s milk supply, there are cases where mothers “dry up.”  The mother might also be injured or stranded, leaving the infant without a supply of food.

The Red Cross and FEMA both recommend that breastfeeding mothers store infant formula in case the mother isn’t able to breastfeed during an emergency.

Even if you think your infant won’t need it, stockpiling infant formula is a good idea.  It can be used as a disaster barter item.  It can also be fed to older children and adults as a great source of nutrients.

Multivitamins for the Mother

Breastfeeding takes a lot of nutrients and energy from the mother.  To make sure that the mother is able to provide adequate milk without affecting her health, be sure to stockpile extra prenatal/lactation vitamins.

A nursing mother will also require more calories per day, so this must be factored into your food supplies.

Formula-Fed Infants

emergency preparedness infant formula

The main issue with formula is that you need to clean the bottles and nipples.  You’ll also need to make sure your hands are clean beforehand. This is especially important in disaster situations where contaminants are all around.

According to recommendations, you need 1.5 liters of water per feed for cleaning hands and equipment.  I personally find that recommendation to be overkill, but mothers who aren’t used to saving water might use even more.

If an infant is feeding 8 times per day, that comes out to 12 liters (3.1 gallons) of water per day just for bottle sterilization.  You’ll also need to make sure you’ve got enough fuel for your emergency stove to boil the water.

Alternatively, you can get tablets or drops for sterilizing with cold water.  You just dissolve the sterilization agent into safe water.  Then soak the bottles in this sterilizing solution.  You’ll still need extra water, but not as much as if you'd boil for sterilization.


Pre-Sterilized Bottles and Liners

Consider putting some pre-sterilized bottles and/or bottle liners in with your infant emergency supplies.

These can be fairly expensive, so you probably won’t be stockpiling tons of them.  However, they are great for situations like:

  • While evacuating when you don’t have a chance to sterilize bottles.
  • During short-term emergencies when you don’t want to bother with sterilization.
  • When a gas leak is suspected and you don’t want to turn on your emergency stove to sterilize a bottle.


Instant Formula vs. Powdered Formula

Instant formula is definitely the easiest solution for disaster preparedness.  You won’t have to worry about mixing it with clean water as you would with powdered formula.

However, bear in mind that instant formula needs to be refrigerated immediately after opening.  If you can’t refrigerate it, then you’ll have to discard any leftover milk.  I personally find it smarter to stockpile single-serving packages of infant formula.  It’s more expensive but you won’t waste as much.

If you go with instant formula, make sure you have waterproof bags to seal it in after opening.  Disasters make for all sorts of dangerous conditions.  The last thing you want is your infant formula to spill open or get tainted with flood water.

To figure out how much formula you need to stockpile, use this guide to infant formula feeding amounts and schedule..


Emergency Infant Formula Recipes

Giving powdered cow or goat milk to an infant under six months is not advised.  However, it can get used as an emergency infant formula with these additions.

Recipe #1:

  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. instant powdered milk or ¼ cup non-instant powdered milk
  • 1 ½ cups purified water
  • 1 tbsp. oil (coconut oil is a good choice)
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Recipe #2:

  • 6oz evaporated milk
  • 10oz boiled water
  • 1 ½ tbsp. sugar

*Never give infants undiluted cow’s milk.  The high amount of minerals can cause kidney damage.

Water for Infants

A disaster has struck and you have absolutely no milk or formula for your infant.  Your response might be to give your infant pure water.  It doesn’t provide nutrients, but at least it will stave off that hunger feeling – right?

NEVER give water to an infant under 6 months old! 

Water can cause hyponatremia in infants, aka water intoxication. Likewise, never dilute infant formula with water to make it go further.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many infants were fed nothing but water and were put at risk of death due to the hyponatremia.  Take this seriously and make sure you have enough infant formula stockpiled in your home and vehicle.


Risk of Nitrates in Water

survival water guide

For adults and children, boiling is generally considered one of the best ways to purify water.  It kills viruses, bacteria, and protozoa.  However, boiling will not remove any chemical contaminants. In fact, boiling concentrates the chemicals because of evaporation.

After certain types of disasters (especially if flooding occurred), chemicals from crops and lawns can get into the ground water.  Nitrates are of particular concern for infants since they can’t process them like adults can.

It is recommended that you use a water purification method that can remove nitrates. These tend to be very pricy though, so you are probably better off using bottled water to prepare formula.

During the emergency, pay attention to your area’s drinking water advisory alerts to find out if tap water is safe for infants. Remember, a “boil alert” doesn’t mean that boiled water is safe for infants!


Infants Eating Solid Foods

Infant eating

Once your infant starts eating solid foods, emergency preparedness gets a bit easier.  You won’t have to worry about your milk supply running out or about stockpiling huge amounts of expensive formula.

You can stockpile readymade baby food.  In general, pouches are the better choice.  They won’t break like jars and you don’t even necessarily need a spoon.

But bear in mind that you can avoid baby food completely.  Up until the advent of commercial baby food, babies ate the same food that their parents did (though obviously chopped up into a puree).  If you already have a stockpile of food buckets, you can use these for your child too.


Bugging Out with Infants

Unprepared father taking infant out in flood water

If you have an infant, you should plan to hunker down through a disaster rather than bug out.  Infants aren’t able to handle the stresses which come with bugging out well – such as exposure to unsanitary conditions and fluctuating temperatures.

Even if the weather conditions are ideal, you’re not going to have an easy time carrying your Bug Out Bag along with the infant and all its extra supplies.

Bugging out should only be considered a last-resort – but you should still be prepared for it.

To bug out with an infant, you will need a good infant carrier.  Forget about a stroller as it will only get stuck in uneven terrain and slow you down.  Hiking stores sell infant carriers that double as backpacks.  Baby slings work well too because you can carry the infant in the front and your Bug Out Bag on the back.

Remember that the extra weight of the infant will cause you to burn more calories. You’ll need to pack extra food for yourself.  Also plan for many more rest stops and slow-going.


Diapers

cloth diapers for emergency preparedness

You’ll want a stockpile of disposable diapers and wet wipes ready in case of an emergency.  If you have the storage space in your home, you might as well buy lots of diapers in advance – including larger sizes for when your child grows.  

Any leftover diapers that your child doesn’t use you can always gift to friend or donate to charity.

For bugging out though, you’ll definitely need to rely on reusable cloth diapers.  It simply isn’t feasible to carry enough disposable diapers to get an infant through 3+ days on the go.

You might want to consider what this couple did for diapers while hiking the Appalachian Trail with their infant:

Don’t forget that you are going to need a lot of sealable baggies for keeping used baby diapers in!

In the event of a chemical spill or similar hazard, remember that you’ll need to use treated water to wash the diapers so chemicals don’t come in contact with the baby’s skin through the diaper.


Clothing

infant waterproof rain suit

Thankfully, infants don’t move around much.  Until they start crawling and walking, their clothes stay pretty clean.  You won’t need many outfits for the baby.

You’ll want to bring 1 or 2 spare outfits that can be compiled in layers.  Layering makes it easier to regulate the baby’s body temperature.  Don’t forget a head covering for the infant to protect against cold or sunburn.

Even though your infant won’t be moving on her own for a while, a waterproof rain suit is still useful to have – especially if you are forced to evacuate through wet conditions.


Noise Reduction

One of the most haunting moments in the movie The Pianist is of the deportation scene.  A mother is crying because she accidentally smothered her baby while trying to keep it quiet to avoid detection.  The baby died and they were found by Nazis anyway.

I hope that it never gets so bad that people would target families with babies instead of helping them.  However, you’ve got to be prepared for the worst.

Make sure you are able to keep your infant quiet if necessary.  Pack several pacifiers in with your emergency supplies.  When hunkering down, stay in the innermost room of the home or basement so sounds are muffled.


Face Masks for Infants

infant gas mask

It took several large disasters for people to realize the importance of face masks for disaster prepping. During 9/11, for example, many people were exposed to toxic dust from the rubble of the Twin Towers.  People are still dying today because of diseases they contracted.

Adults in your family should at least have an N95 face mask which filters out many dangerous airborne particles.  However, you should never put a face mask on a baby.

Breathing through a face mask is harder, and an infant’s lungs aren’t always up to the task.  The result can be suffocation.

What can be done for infants then? 

The best solution is to keep them indoors.  If an airborne threat is imminent, then seal up cracks in the home.  If you want to take prepping to the next level, you could get a gas mask hood for your infant. However, these are expensive and gas mask cartridges expire quickly.

2. Prepping with Small Children

emergency preparedness for small children

In a lot of ways, disaster survival with small children is harder than with infants.

Where infants are blissfully unaware of what is happening around them, small children will see the chaos and can be traumatized by it.

With small children, you’ve also got to worry about their activity levels.  An infant can sit happily in a baby sling all day.  Try to get a 1-year old to sit still in a cramped emergency shelter and you are bound for some tantrums!


Food

Small children can eat the same foods that you do.  I know a lot of parents make special meals for their “picky eaters” but, trust me, your kid will eat anything if he gets hungry enough!

However, you still need to prepare for those picky eaters.  Get the same types of emergency foods that you normally would, such as food buckets.  However, make sure to get a much larger variety of foods. The cost of 3-months of emergency food isn't as much as you'd think.

Variety is important to ensure the kids are getting a wide range of nutrients from food.  Variety also keeps the food more interesting so they are more likely to eat.

Don’t forget about multivitamins for your kids too. They can’t substitute for the nutrients found in food, but they can go a long way in keeping your kid healthy during emergency situations.


Potty Training

Consider potty training to be part of your emergency preparedness plans.  I know a lot of American kids don’t get potty trained until they are 4 years old.  Without trying to sound harsh, this is way too old for a healthy child to still be wearing diapers.

With my children, I used cloth diapers from infancy.  Aside from saving oodles of money, cloth diapering also has the benefit of helping your kids potty train faster.  The idea is that today’s disposable diapers are “too good.”  They absorb moisture so well that the kid doesn’t even realize he is wet until later, thus not making the connection between that full bladder feeling and urination.

Even if your child is potty trained, be prepared for a few accidents during a disaster situation.  The stress and change of routine can cause accidents.  Pack extra underwear and bedding.

I put an absorbent waterproof sheet in with our emergency supplies.  It would go under my kid’s sleeping bag.  If an accident happened, at least the urine wouldn’t spread all over the shelter!


Clothing

tuffo waterproof rain suit

Since kids are crawling, falling, and running everywhere, they get messy quickly. You’ll need more changes of clothes than you would for infants.

As a general rule, pack one or two more changes of clothes for young children in your Bug Out Bag than you would for yourself. If you are getting high-quality, quick-drying clothes, then you’ll only need one or two extra changes.

Since I already take my kids backpacking and camping, it was worth it for me to invest in some quality outdoor clothing.  Long underwear combined with quick-dry pants are a lifesaver when kids are tramping through the woods in the rain!  If it gets really cold, the kids can wear both pairs of long underwear plus the waterproof pants.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on outdoor clothing for kids (which they are just going to outgrow quickly anyway), look for clothing that can be easily layered.

Cold-Weather Emergency Clothing List for Kids

  • Long underwear (x3)
  • Quick-dry or waterproof trousers (x2)
  • Long undershirt (x3)
  • Sweater, wool or synthetic (x2)
  • Waterproof jacket or rain suit (x1)
  • Underwear (x4)
  • Socks (x4)
  • Waterproof boots or sneakers (x1)
  • Pajamas (x1)

Bonus Tip: Choose brightly colored clothes for your children to wear during emergencies. You will be able to find them in a crowd easier if you get separated.

Introducing Small Kids to Prepping

This is perhaps the most important part of prepping with small children.  If you don’t introduce your children to the concept of prepping before a disaster strikes, the ordeal could be very traumatic for them.

On the flip side, if you talk too much about disaster prepping, you could scare your child.  I’ve heard stories of children who had nightmares after their parents ran hurricane and earthquake drills with them.

It’s all about finding the right balance between safety and fear.

 

Ages 2-4

fire drill for kids

For very small children, don’t talk too much about disasters.  They won’t be able to comprehend the concept of disaster and could be traumatized.  Instead, focus on running emergency drills with kids of this age.

You can also start to talk to children about prepping activities at this time.  For example, as you stockpile emergency food, show it to your children.  Tell them that “Look at all the yummy food we have to eat! If there is ever a big storm, we will have plenty of food.”


Ages 4-6

survival skills for young kids

There is a lot of controversy about when is “too early” to start teaching kids survival skills.  When done correctly, there is no such thing as too soon.

For example, I wouldn’t let my five year old light a fire.  However, I do let her gather firewood and set up the “teepee” for the fire.  She has a great time doing it.  I also talk to her about fire safety – like how we need to make a circle of rocks around the fire so it won’t “escape.”  If she were ever stranded in the woods alone with some matches, I’m confident that she would be able to make the fire by herself.

Some survival skills can be taught through games.  For example, kids have a natural inclination to make forts.  Go into the woods with them and make a survival shelter with them.  Talk to them about how they could use lots of leaves to keep warm if they wanted. They’ll have fun and won’t even realize they are learning an important skill.

Survival Skills to Teach Young Children:

Important: Remember that how you respond will set the tone during the emergency. If your kids see you panicking, then they will panic.  If you keep a calm head and give clear directions during the emergency, your kids will feel like everything is under control.

To ensure you are the rock your kids need during an emergency, practice mental preparedness techniques and be sure to have all your emergency supplies ready!


Bugging Out with Small Children

In many ways, bugging out with small children would be even more difficult than with an infant.  An infant you can just strap to your back and go.  Children aged 1+ aren’t going to want to sit in a carrier for long periods (plus, they will be a lot heavier to carry long distances!).

Small children also need to run around to expend all that energy.  They make tons of noise and could easily draw attention to your group.  For these reasons, it is better to plan to hunker down than bug out with small children.

Create a safe room in your home.  Keep supplies handy to make the room more child-friendly.  For example, stock it with some extra blankets and pillows so you all can be comfortable. If you can afford it, buy an underground survival bunker.

safe room example

Example of a built-in safe room for your home.

Of course, there are some situations where bugging out is the best option.  Thus, you’ve got to be prepared.

The best option would be to buy a survival property in a secure location, such as a cabin in the woods. You could stock this property with supplies.  You could also use it for vacations so your child would be used to it ahead of time.

My kids each started backpacking at 3 years of age and even carried their own packs. But, at some point, they’d inevitably get tired and want to be carried.  In a bug out situation, there is no slowing down to take rests. You need to be able to carry your child!

The weight of your child needs to be factored into your bug out gear.  You’re probably already carrying lots of extra weight because of the child’s supplies.  So, cut weight from your bug out bag in any way possible.

When my youngest was still little, we packed our bug out bags in a way that I could carry both packs while my husband carried our child.  Each family will have to figure out what works best for them and their unique situation though.


Noise Reduction

In the worst case disaster scenarios, you might need your child to be quiet so as not to give away your location.  Have you ever tried keeping a 3 year old quiet for more than 10 minutes?  It is hard – which is why you’ve got to have a plan.

I’ve found that lollipops can go a long way towards silencing a child.  On long airplane trips, I give my kids lollipops and they happily (and silently) suck away for 30 minutes at a time.  So, you can bet that I’ve got a supply of lollipops in our bug out bags!

For a more hardcore solution, you can consider giving your kids a dose of antihistamine, cold medication, or other substance.  It will make them drowsy so they can sleep through the disaster. 

For legal reasons, I can't recommend actually doing this though. Talk to your doctor first!


Face Masks for Small Children

Once children get a bit older, they can safely wear a face mask without risk of suffocation.  However, for a face mask to work, it must fit correctly.  Using an adult N95 mask on a child is unlikely to provide much protection.

Most of the face masks for children are sold in Asian countries because of air pollution.  These are usually not rated. However, there are a few companies making tested face masks for kids.

Totobobo makes an F92 filter for children.  

The SmartMask by Air Plus is N95 certified and suitable for children 7 years and up.

3. Preparedness for School-Aged Children

first aid training for children

As your children get older, they should become more self-reliant.  If your kids aren’t there yet, don’t worry.  It is never too late to teach self-reliance and survival skills to kids.  At this stage, you should get your kids involved with prepping in fun ways.


Food

freeze dried meat box

Just like with small children, your older children can eat the same survival foods as you.  You’ll still want lots of variety, especially if you have picky eaters.

My main piece of advice about emergency food for older children is try the food first.  For example, try each of your freeze-dried dinner flavors when you get them.

Kids can get very upset when their routines change (which will happen in multitude during an emergency).  A small issue such as not liking the emergency lasagna could set them off.  Simple things like trying the emergency food beforehand can go a long way to preparing them mentally.

As your kids get even older, you can seek their input.  Ask them what types of snacks they’d like to have in case of an emergency.  Those small decisions like whether to get Oreos or Snickers will help them feel more in control.


Clothing

For older kids, there is no need to pack any extra clothing than you would for yourself.  However, I would still pack a waterproof suit.  It can be a lifesaver if the kid slips into a muddy puddle.

Since older kids will be walking more, you should invest in a good pair of waterproof hiking boots for them.  For flood preparedness, they’ll also need galoshes in case they need to walk through high water.

Bonus Tip: Some parents like to have matching outfits for their entire families – such as bright yellow baseball caps for everyone. You’ll spot each other more easily in a crowd (though also potentially draw attention to yourselves).


Away from Home Emergency Plan

Considering that most kids spend around 30 hours per week in school, there is a good chance that, if disaster strikes, your kids will be at school when it happens.

Unfortunately, many school systems are inadequately prepared for disasters.  It is up to you to make sure your kids have what they need to be safe.

  • Know the school’s emergency policies: Find out under what situations the children will be evacuated, where they will go if evacuated, and what the designated safe rooms are.
  • Have contact numbers ready: You need to have the contact number of the school and the teacher. If a disaster strikes, every parent in the school will start calling the main number.  It will be much more efficient to call the teacher’s cell phone directly.
  • Keep disaster supplies at school: It might be overkill to have a complete Bug Out Bag in you kid’s locker, but you can keep some core emergency items. Read what to pack in this Get Home Bag Checklist.
  • Emergency communication plan: This is a crucial step that many preppers fail to take. Before disaster strikes, establish modes of communication (cell phones often fail), meeting points, and what to do if you can’t get in contact.  Read How to Make an Emergency Communication Plan.


Survival Skills

older girl volunteer at red cross

The Red Cross offers many youth courses.

Most young kids love learning survival skills.  Just put them in the woods, give them some direction, and they’ll be gathering sticks for a fire in no time.  Teenagers can lose their enthusiasm for outdoor trips, so be sure to instill survival skills in your kids when they are still young.

If your older kids aren’t enthusiastic about learning survival skills, don’t force them.  Instead, lead by example.  Be excited about learning skills, try new things, and share your knowledge.  Or, get involved in a group like the Scouts. Kids often learn better in peer groups.  Here are some other fun ways to learn survival skills.

List of Survival Skills All Kids Should Know

  • How to Read a Map
  • How to Lay a Fire in Multiple Conditions
  • What to Do if Lost
  • What to Do during a Home Invasion
  • How to Find Drinkable Water
  • When and How to Fight Back
  • Emergency First Aid

As your kids get older, you can teach them more advanced survival skills such as how to use a two-way radio, knife use, and shooting.

Starting around the age of 10, your child should start learning the basics of driving.  Of course, it is illegal for children to drive.  However, during a disaster, driving will be one of the most critical survival skills to know.

Ways to Learn Survival Skills

  • Orienteering
  • Join a Scout group
  • Play paintball or laser tag
  • Go camping
  • Take a first aid course


Survival Mentality

Remember that survival isn’t just about learning how to do X, Y, and Z in the wilderness.  Survival is a mentality.  It is all about self-reliance and accountability.

Even if you can’t get your kids into the wilderness or the shooting range, you can still teach them to be self-reliant.  Let them make their own decisions – even if they are wrong.  Demand that your children think critically to solve problems.

If you can instill this survival mentality into your kids while they are young, they will be able to get through any disaster situation.


Bugging Out with Older Children

bugging out with older children

If you want to get an idea of what bugging out with your older children would be like, I suggest that you take them backpacking.

Even the most “tough” kids will inevitably start to whine.  Their pace will wane.  And there will probably be some arguing.

Remember that your children are just that – children.  Bugging out will be tough for them physically and emotionally.  You might need to rethink your bug out plan to prioritize hunkering down with your family instead.

If you do make the drastic decision to bug out with your family, then you have a lot of packing considerations for preparations.


BOB Weight for Kids

The ideal bug out backpack weight for adults is no more than ¼ of their bodyweight. However, children have flexible spines which can be damaged by heavy packs.  Heavy packs also throw off their balance and make trekking difficult.

Bug out bags for kids should weigh no more than 10% of their bodyweight.    

This weight will fill up quickly.  Thus, you’ll see why it is so important to divide up emergency gear amongst families members.


Dividing Up BOB Gear

One benefit of bugging out as a family is that you can divide up emergency gear amongst all members. However, figuring out how to divvy up the gear can be very problematic.

What if you only pack one tent, but the person with the tent gets separated from the group? You could give each member their own tent, but then the packs would get very heavy.

For detailed advice on how to divvy up gear, read this Guide to Packing Family Bug Out Bags.


4. General Tips for Prepping with Kids

Medications for Children

Medications should be part of all first aid kits.  When prepping with children though, you have some different considerations.  Here’s a checklist of additional items to include and why you need them.

1. Electrolytes: Diarrhea is the #1 cause of infant and child death worldwide. All it takes is a bit of tainted water to get your child sick.  

The resulting diarrhea and vomiting will dehydrate your child, possibly leading to death.  

Electrolytes (which can be bought in packets) hydrate your child quickly.  

Note that I keep a bunch of these for us adults too!

Recommended Reading - Home Made Diarrhea Remedies


2. Fever Medications: You can use old-fashioned methods like cold compresses to reduce fever, but in an emergency nothing beats fever meds like ibuprofen. Be sure to get liquid forms for small children.


3. Measuring Droppers, Syringes and Spoons: It is almost impossible to get the right dosage of liquid medications without these tools.


4. Diaper Rash Cream: The last thing you need during an emergency is an infant screaming his head off because of a painful bum.


5. Cough Syrup: These also have the benefit of making your child drowsy, which can be useful during stressful bug-in situations.


6. Allergy Medications: You might not find out your young child is allergic to something until it is too late. Have antihistamine medications on hand just in case of an allergic reaction.


7. Antibiotics: Certain infections are very common with kids, such as strep throat and ear infections. There is a lot of controversy around stockpiling antibiotics for prepping though, especially with many turning to fish antibiotics.


Remember: Never use rubbing alcohol as a disinfectant on an infant.  The alcohol absorbs into their skin very quickly and could cause poisoning.

Also don’t give kids aspirin.  It could cause Reye’s syndrome, which can result in brain and liver damage. It is a rare condition but can occur if kids who have recently had a viral infection are given aspirin.


Emergency Documents

Forgetting to pack emergency documents is one of the biggest mistakes that people make during disaster prep.

It might not seem important, but you could be turned away from shelters or other aid if you cannot prove your identity – as is what happened during Hurricane Katrina.  After a large-scale disaster, I can only imagine the issues which might occur if you couldn’t prove your child was your own.

Here are some of the emergency documents that you will need:

  • Passport for your children: Get a passport for your child ASAP. You never know if you will need to flee the country.
  • Contact list: Your kids should have a list of emergency contacts available. Kids in school should keep one of these in their backpacks or lockers.
  • In Case of Emergency (ICE) number: If something happens to your child while you aren’t there, the first responders will call the ICE number. You should program an ICE number family phones. You should also include an ICE number in your child’s backpack.
  • Photos of the family: Keep family photos in with your emergency supplies and bug out bag. These can be used to locate family members in case anyone goes missing.
  • Medical ID: This lists any medications taken, allergies, or health conditions. Get one of these for your children in case your child needs medical care when you are not available.

5. Prepping with Children Checklist

Emergency Supplies Checklist

*These are the emergency supplies you would need for surviving through a 7-day emergency.   Work your way up to a 30-day stockpile.

  • Non-perishable food
  • At least 14 gallons of water per person, preferably more
  • Emergency stove and fuel
  • Mess kit
  • Can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Water purification method
  • Emergency toilet
  • Disposable gloves
  • Heavy-duty plastic bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Soap and hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Emergency lighting (flashlights, candles, lamps)
  • Emergency radio
  • Sleeping bags or wool blankets
  • Tent or tarp - Choose The Right Survival Tent
  • Face masks
  • Supplies for securing home
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Duct tape
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Utility shutoff wrenches
    • Tools
    • Heavy duty gloves
    • Broom and dustpan
    • Shovel - Survival Shovels Reviewed
    • Rope
  • Change of clothes and footwear
  • Rain jackets or ponchos
  • Whistle
  • Waterproof matches
  • Emergency manuals
  • Pet supplies
  • Cash in small bills
  • Emergency documents

Emergency Supplies for Infants

  • Baby formula (at least 56 feedings as single serve packets or powdered formula)
  • Pre-sterilized bottles and/or drop-in liners
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Pacifier
  • Bottled water for preparing formula (if powdered formula is used)
  • Water for washing hands and bottles (at least 3 gallons per day)
  • Feeding cups, bowls, spoons
  • Paper towels
  • Detergent and soap
  • Pot for boiling bottles or sterilization agent
  • Emergency stove and fuel
  • Disposable diapers (at least 100)
  • Cloth diapers (at least 10) and covers (min. 2)
  • Baby wipes (at least 200)
  • Antiseptic wipes (at least 120)
  • Infant carrier or sling
  • Clothing in layers
  • Waterproof rain suit
  • Multivitamins and additional food and water for breastfeeding mothers
  • Measuring droppers and syringes for medications
  • Infant medications

Emergency Supplies for Small Children:

  • Portable potty
  • Baby wipes
  • Variety of survival foods
  • Comfort items (games, books, toys, etc.)
  • Two or three extra changes of clothing
  • Waterproof rain suit
  • Child carrier or sling
  • Waterproof boots
  • Multivitamin
  • Lollipops, antihistamine, or other means of silencing the child
  • Glow sticks
  • Medications and measuring spoons
  • Comfort item, such as favorite teddy

Emergency Supplies for Older Children

  • Matching family outfits, caps, or vests
  • Bug Out Bag customized for the child
  • Get home bag for at school
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Galoshes
  • Waterproof jacket or rain suit
  • Entertainment (such as a deck of cards or notebook)


Further Resources:


Image credits:

Emergency supplies ©2011 Gribble and Berry; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Oklahoma Tornado Continued Relief  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bradley C. Church)
"Cloth diapers" (CC BY 2.0) by AmySelleck
Military kids get a dose of wilderness  (U.S. Air Force photo/ Melissa Still)
Fire safety in action  (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)
"DIPECHO project in Nicaragua" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid
Red Cross gives more than just blood (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mildred Guevara)
Hoist rescue  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

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