Part of successful survival is making sure everyone in your family has the skills they need. Ones they can use whether they’re camping or facing a real-life emergency. This means kids too. Setting up children for success in life means providing basic survival skills training that is age appropriate. While babies, toddlers, and preschoolers aren’t going to be much help in an emergency, you can begin training your little prepper as early as four or five years old. Here are some of the basics to get started with.
Start out by regularly pointing out landmarks and creating family meeting places when you’re together. These landmarks are good to point to when you’re walking to school, visiting an amusement park for the day, at the mall, or on a hike in the wilderness. By pointing out items casually with your child they will subconsciously become more aware of their surroundings. Test them occasionally, (even when they’re young) by having them try to navigate you home from the park, school, or be the ones to read the trail markers on a family hike. Practice makes perfect.
Keep Calm & Stay Put
Getting lost is stressful and scary. Teach your children to stay put and calm when they’re separated from their adult(s). This ensures they’re found that much faster. Reinforce that when we panic, we make silly decisions. If a child tears around looking for help, they could find themselves in an even worse situation. This will help them keep a level head in a crisis. Teach little kids to find a favourite tree or rock to name and talk to. This encourages them to stay put and be kept ‘company’ until someone finds them.
Practice or role play potential situations with your children when you’re camping, hiking, or at home (just like you practice your family emergency plan
Keep Warm Without Fire
Kids who don’t have the supplies or aren’t old enough to use fire can learn other ways to keep warm. Show them how to insulate their clothes by creating a ‘scarecrow suit’. Make them practice building it by tucking their pants into their socks and filling up their clothing with leaves and plants. Make sure they know which plants to avoid so they don’t end up stuffing their clothing with poison ivy or poison oak. If they're in shorts in the summer and get cold, remind them they can still stuff their t-shirt to keep their torso warm.
If they aren’t cold, but think they’ll be separated for a while and night is approaching (or it’s likely to get chilly) they can create a bed to keep them warm using nearby leaves and branches. It will only take around half an hour for them to create an adequate leaf bed. Bonus, it will give them something to do while they await help.
How To Find Safe Water
A basic rule of thumb for survival is that a human can last three weeks without food, but only three days without water, and three minutes without oxygen. While children shouldn’t be drinking unfiltered water the second they’re separated from their party, they should understand the best resources for fresh water in a survival situation. Rainwater collected in leaves or other containers is the best bet.
Next they should know, to find water, look downhill where water naturally runs. If they are unable to boil water, they can do other things to mitigate risks of dysentery or other pathogens that may be found in water. They should look for clean small pools of clean water, and potentially animal tracks to know where local wildlife is sourcing it’s drinking water. This is another item you should point out to them in non-emergency situations, so they can see where animals drink and have a better idea of how to get water should they need it. Remind them that should their emergency last longer than expected, it’s better to be sick than dead from dehydration!
What important survival skills have you taught your children?