Preparing for a disaster or survival situation can be an overwhelming project for some families. Having the necessary food, clothing, shelter, water, and other survival needs set aside and portable for one or two adults is relatively easy. However, the ability to store and carry enough to provide for the needs of infants and young children is far more difficult. Part of preparedness in this situation is preparing the children to carry whatever they can as well as preparing alternative supply transportation.
Alternative Supply Transportation
In a bug-out situation, while having access to a vehicle is preferable, it isn’t always practical or possible. Leaving a dangerous area may require a lot of walking and even hiking for multiple days while carrying everything on your own back. Young children and infants will slow you down, add to the load, and require more to comfort and sufficiently care for them. Preparing a strong, rugged wagon, trailer or even stroller will help lighten the load. Even very small strollers can have multiple bags and packs slung onto them, however, they need to have a strong enough frame and wheels to accommodate the excess weight. Many jogging strollers and biking trailers have high weight limits and sturdy wheels that can handle rougher terrain.
When prepping to bug-out with an infant, having a strong sling or other harness/carrier is invaluable. Keeping the child close to your body will keep them warm, comforted, and will keep your hands free to push a supply stroller, climb through more difficult areas, or protect yourself.
Most people are not physically ready to bug-out on foot, including most children. Being able to pack out survival equipment requires far more physical strength and stamina than your average day. Building your family’s collective strength and stamina is just as important to your preparation as saving food, water, and emergency supplies. And the only way to do that is to get out there and practice frequently. While it is tempting to think that you will be able to follow relatively flat, even roads, it will likely be very unsafe and you will need to hike through neighborhoods, parks, fields and even forests to escape an area safely. You will need to be able to accomplish this quickly with as much survival gear as you can practically carry.
Working through potential disaster scenarios as a family should include practice runs. Map out meeting points, viable routes to leave in each direction (you never know where the disaster may originate), and possible resting/camping areas. Then get out there and test each of your routes while keeping an eye out for other possible routes. Look for places to refill water, places to hide if necessary, and places to potentially “stash” small quantities of survival items where others won’t find them. Make it a weekly family outing so that it becomes second nature and part of an expected routine. The first few practice runs will probably be tough, but regular exercise incorporating increasing amounts of your survival gear will build everyone’s endurance up.
More importantly, it will help everyone know what to expect. Everyone will experience a measure of fear and uncertainty in a disaster situation, but having a plan in place, practiced, and known to all participants will help get everyone moving. Even very young children will be better able to cope with the psychological impact of a disaster situation more readily if they are walking on familiar paths and in familiar places.
Preparing as a Family
Whatever your level of preparedness, you should make your family a part of it. Giving individuals specific tasks in an emergency situation helps to ensure that nothing is forgotten or left behind. Running through and timing a bug-out situation on a regular basis will help all involved streamline the process and become accustomed to the idea that a situation may develop which will require quick action and no time for questions.
Above all, get your whole family into the best physical condition possible. In a true survival situation, the ability to walk 20 miles across difficult terrain may mean the difference between life and death. You can be prepared for almost anything if you can get up and walk out together.