If you are a parent or plan on bugging out with family members that have children there are some important factors to consider when preparing for your potential evacuation. This includes carefully packing a family bug out bag and making your family bug out plan compatible with the limitations presented by having young ones with your bug out group. Here we will take a look at bugging out with infants, young children, and tween/teens to help you determine what to pack in your family bug out bag and how to best prepare your family unit to survive when the unforeseen strikes.
What Makes A Great Family Bug Out Bag?
A family bug out bag can differ from a typical solo BOB in a few important ways. Although it has the same primary purpose of being a mobile kit to help you survive, it must be tailored to meet the needs of multiple people of various ages and skillsets. Here are some items to add into your family bug out bag based on the ages of the children you will be evacuating with:
Family Bug Out Bag: Infants and Toddlers (Age 0-5)
Combination child carrier and pack
This will enable you to carry both your child and survival gear . It is ideal to utilize one of these combination packs as an option for your family bug out bag if you have a toddler or infant that you are going to bug out with. Having a combination child carrier/pack will enable you to carry everything comfortably and allow you to move further faster.
This is obvious for anyone who has been a parent but it might be something that is overlooked when packing your firestarters, paracord, and other survival gear. Reusable diapers are probably a better option. Besides the fact that they are multiuse with some basic treatment, they are also multipurpose and can be put to many other tasks beyond their primary objective.
This goes along with any medication you may be giving your child. It may be as simple as a reflux medication but you do not want to have to improvise a delivery method while on the move. Medicine syringes are lightweight and take up very little room. If your infant may need to ingest any medication be sure to pack one.
You may pack rations or be able to forage and hunt for yourself but what about the little one? Even if the mother is currently breastfeeding it is wise to pack some powdered formula. This will enable another person to feed the child if the mother is separated or otherwise unable to do so.
If your child takes a pacifier having one packed in your family bug out bag will make sure it comes with you as you evacuate. A pacifier may help your child sleep and will give you an option for keeping them quiet when maintaining a low volume is imperative.
As a rule of thumb pack your family bug out bag with 2 more sets of clothing for your child than you pack for yourself. This will enable you to better regulate their temperature by using the principle of layering and give you options in the event of a diaper accident.
This is essential foul weather gear for your infant or toddler. Keeping them warm and dry will go a long way in reducing parental stress and keeping morale high. There are many options out there for this, make sure if you already have one that it is packed in your family bug out bag, not hanging in the closet. Also be sure that if it has been a while since you last performed a review of your family bug out bag that this item (and any other clothing) still fits your growing child.
These are bottles that are sold in sterile packaging. It will save you from having to boil a bottle before feeding your child while on the move. Be sure to keep track of expiration dates on any sterile items as a part of your regular bug out bag reviews.
This is generally sold in a concentrated powder or liquid form that is diluted with water. If you have to use any bottle multiple times you will eventually need to sterilize them. A few drops of sterilizing agent mixed with water in a nalgene or other wide mouthed water bottle can be used to sterilize bottles or other small items.
Bug Out Planning for Infants and Toddlers
It is essential to realize that you are going to need to carry your child for the overwhelming majority of your bug out. Besides the physical limitations of toddlers and infants they may be emotionally or mentally traumatized by the event that caused the bug out and new surroundings. This will lead them to be more needy and want to be in frequent reassuring contact with their parent. As you will already be carrying your family bug out bag, the additional weight of your child has to be incorporated into your bug out planning. It is necessary but it will ultimately slow you down and cause you to burn more calories. Plan your energy intake and rest stops to account for this.
Noise reduction is an important aspect of operational security. This clashes with the need for most young children to yell or cry to express their needs. This means you need a strategy in place to keep your child quiet if a critical situation arises. It may be as simple as giving them a pacifier or as advanced as giving them a dose of antihistamine or other substance that may make them drowsy (Talk to a doctor if you are considering this latter strategy!!!!). Plan and prepare to avoid problems when you are on the road.
Family Bug Out Bag: School Aged Kids (Age 5-10)
Non-battery powered toys
Keeping your school aged child’s hands and mind occupied will go a long way in making the situation more bearable for both you and them. Plan on packing at least one non-battery powered toy in your family bug out bag to keep your child entertained when you set up camp for the night. Ideally this item will have many uses and ways to interact with it. Think simple, and light and a single toy, not something with many pieces like legos. It is good to have your child pick this item and put it in the family bug out bag themselves as it will help them understand that it is a special toy they are setting aside as part of the family’s preparedness planning.
Kids this age know enough to pick up on the cues around them to know something is wrong. Pack a familiar item for them in your family bug out bag to comfort themselves with. This may be a favorite toy, blanket, or stuffed animal. Having something they are used to interacting with will make the bug out situation less overwhelming for them and reduce parental stress.
Child’s Bug Out Bag
School aged kids will be able to carry their own backpack with a few supplies to take a small amount of the load off the parents. You may be able to pack some of their clothes or other lightweight items in their pack or split up some of the group’s basic essentials such as rations or other survival items amongst the gear they are carrying. Be careful not to overload the child, 5 lbs worth of gear is a good guideline. If you load them down and tire them out quickly you are going to have to carry them AND the gear.
Bug Out Planning for School Aged Kids
A child at this age can begin to contribute towards the family’s prepping. They will be able to undertake many tasks while under adult supervision such as collecting firewood, setting up camp, foraging, and many more. This is also a good age to instill the prepping mindset in kids. Have them tag along as you build your bug out plan and pack your family bug out bag to get their minds working.
Starting to learn basic survival skills is an excellent way to involve kids as well. Train them in basic first aid to start off with. This means they will be able to provide some assistance if the parent gets hurt.
It is wise to put photos of the family in the pockets of school aged children. In the event you are separated, they will be able to show these to authorities or other people they encounter to help find you again.
At this age kids also begin to spend time away from their parents at school. Because of this it is important to drill into them where to meet if a disaster occurs. As we cover in our How To Make A Bug Out Plan Article, this may be a specific office or classroom but what is important is they know what to do when the bug out plan is initiated.
Lastly although school age kids can show some initiative and take on some responsibilities it is important to recognize that at some point in your bugging out the parent will most likely have to carry them. This may be due to exhaustion or just facing difficult terrain. Regardless of why you need to be prepared to do this and have a family bug out bag packed in a manner that does not prohibit carrying your child.
Family Bug Out Bag: Tween and Teens (Age 10-18)
Teen/Tween Bug Out Bag
Kids in this age group should be able to carry at minimum all their own personal gear that makes up your family bug out bag. This may be their spare clothes, rain gear, and any tools that are specifically for their use such as a hunting or self defense item. Get your teen or tween a backpack made to fit their smaller frame. Make sure it is a quality bag that is able to be carried comfortably and cinched tight to their bodies, not a cheap school book bag. We provide tips on how to pick the best backpack in our article here.
Teens and Tweens are old enough to be taught at minimum proper weapon safety, care, and use. Note that this does not have to be a firearm, if you are uncomfortable with giving a minor a gun you can still teach them to fend for themselves with a slingshot or bow and arrow. Have them practice accuracy and stalking as a part of your regular preparedness exercises so they are ready to catch dinner when you are bugging out.
A knife is one of those basic tools with nearly limitless applications. A kid in this age group should be taught how to safely carry, use, sharpen, and care for a knife. Pack a knife for your teen in your family bug out bag or have them carry it with them in their pack. There are numerous tasks that a teen can carry out using this to assist the welfare of the bug out group as a whole.
Bug Out Planning for Teens and Tweens
As teens are entering the first stages of adulthood this is a great time to start giving them some responsibility. They should be able to understand the seriousness of a bug out situation and grasp that all bug out group members need to pitch in and help. As you prepare at home challenge them to make decisions in a controlled environment. Doing this will teach them to take responsibility for the well being of the family. Teens are also able to learn more advanced skills such as:
- Basic survival skills
- 1st aid
- Fire building
- Shelter building
- And many more…
Kids in this age group are able to take on more autonomous tasks to be carried out when on the move and when setting up a camp. Teach them to take ownership over basic tasks such as gathering firewood, finding and treating water, and foraging for food.
Teens are also able to understand that a bug out situation can be very dangerous and that they may need to defend themselves or their family members. If you are comfortable and knowledgeable in self defense or weapons training it would be wise to pass this information on to older teens in a responsible manner.
Family Bug Out Bag Conclusion
Bugging out with children of any age adds challenges to an already difficult situation. However as you can see with some simple planning you can overcome these difficulties and help your family evacuate safely. Think critically about what items to add to your family bug out bag to make things easier on both the child and the parent. Also include your kids in your preparedness training and bug out planning so they know what is going on when the time comes. If you are interested in more details on making a Family Bug Out Plan, I recommend checking out this comprehensive ebook:
Do you have any items that you would add to your family bug out bag? Is there any special planning that you would do to make sure your family can bug out safely together? Please let us know in the Comments Section below.