We’ve already discussed the importance of having a Get Home Bag with you at all times, and what to keep inside it. Let’s take things one step further – how do you prepare your children for the same type of event? If a major emergency occurs while you’re at work and your kids are at school, and you find yourself walking to them, will you all be prepared to walk home together after that? If your kids end up trapped at school or camp for an extended period of time until you can get to them, do they have what they need to sustain them?
While you can plan to pack your Get Home Bag with extra supplies for your children, these are useless if you can’t get to them. Your best approach is to pad their backpacks with supplies to create a mini Get Home Bag of their own.
Consider Various Emergencies
Consider the types of emergencies that could trap your children at school:
- Severe weather, including tornadoes, tsunamis, flash flooding, or blizzard
- Power grid failure or EMP Attack
- Terrorist Attack
- Acts of war
- Bridge Collapse
As you plan for how to reach them, the roads could become gridlocked and they could find themselves hunkering down without power.
Once you do reach them, how far is their school from your house? No matter the conditions, you will have to find a way home as well.
How to Pad Their Backpacks
Adding a few essential supplies to the backpacks they are already carrying makes the most sense when it comes to packing your child a Get Home Bag. But in addition to sending extra items with them, make sure they are leaving the house prepared each day. The first step is dressing them for the weather outside, including closed-toe shoes they can walk and run in.
You’ll want to keep additions to their packs lightweight and within the realm of what’s acceptable at school. Self-protection may be important, but most schools will not allow pocket knives through the front door. Even lighters or matches will probably be a no-no, despite how useful they may be to an older child needing to start a fire. With these notes in mind, you can send them with:
1. A Poncho
Simple, lightweight, and foldable to a tiny square, a poncho will be invaluable in the rain.
2. Water Bottle
A stainless steel bottle can be used to boil water, but a filter bottle will allow them to refill the bottle safely from a number of sources.
3. Water Purifying Straw
You’ll have some in your Get Home Bag too, but this ensures your kids are covered.
4. 550 Cord
With a million uses, it never hurts to have some on-hand.
5. Space Blankets
Another foldable solution, space blankets can be used as a makeshift shelter or for warmth.
6. Small First Aid Kit
You’ll want the usual bandages, gauze, ointment, etc. but don’t include any medications as the school will likely not allow it.
7. Extra Snacks
Kids are picky, so pack things they like. But focus on calories – they should have enough calories in their backpack to sustain them for 2-3 high-activity days.
If your kids are older, you may want to send them with fire steel and a survival tool (if allowed by the school). These are items you’ll want to familiarize them with, so that they know how to use them if needed.
Know Your Child’s Limitations
Depending on your child’s age and physical ability, asking them to walk a significant distance while carrying a backpack can be a stretch. Add in inclement weather and stress, and you’re just not going to get very far very fast. Keep a jogging stroller in your trunk so that when you do get to your kids, you can help speed up the journey home. If they’re too big to fit in a stroller, even a scooter may help them keep up without too many breaks.
Most importantly, educate your kids on what to expect if an emergency occurs, and how to use the items you’re sending them with. Make sure they know that no matter what happens, you will come for them and get them home safely.