Essential Survival Skills For Kids
by Dan Sullivan from Survival Sullivan
There’s no doubt that children and everyone else in your household (including your pet!) will have their role when something major happens. This also holds true in the aftermath of such an event, since we all know it could take years until things go back to normal.
Building upon Becca’s list of 52 survival skills for kids, I wanted to talk about some of the most important ones, and to give you some tips on how to make learning easier for your children, as well as for yourself.
Ideally, you want to focus on one skill at a time, maybe two. That way, your child will have time to learn at his or her own pace, make real progress and eventually get good at it, as opposed to scraping the ice with all of them and having to deal with low retention rates (and wasted time).
But which skills should you start with? Obviously, with the ones that are critical. Let’s see what those are and how you can introduce your kids to them.
This isn’t necessarily the easiest one to start with, but it’s definitely critical. There are first aid courses specifically targeted at children between the ages of 6 and 9, I highly recommend you let your little one learn this skill from a professional as opposed to yourself.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t teach him a thing or two, such as how to properly call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency or periodically going through the first aid kit with him or her, and make sure they remember what each item is and what it does.
The best way to frame this, of course, is to tell them you’re playing doctor. They should learn to:
- use band-aids, cotton balls and other first aid items
- describe the condition of the patient (that could be you) over the phone
- roll over a person on their side in the recovery position
- ice a swollen body part
- applying pressure over a wound
- …and so on.
Having the Right Mindset
What I mean is, teaching your child to:
- absorb the survival mindset so that, when they grow up, they don’t abandon prepping and continue learning on their own;
- become aware and even suspicious of their surroundings;
- and keeping their cool when something bad happens
Since children are emotional, it won’t be easy, but that’s why the sooner you start, the more likely it is that he or she’ll be ready when something bad actually happens.
Of course, you don’t want to scare the child and leave emotional scars. If possible, talk to a child psychologist or a teacher and make sure you don’t show him pictures or videos that are traumatizing.
What you can do instead is use his imagination. Ask him to tell you in detail what he would do if he saw the house on fire or if a stranger came up and tried to kidnap him. There was a particularly disturbing social experiment, where a guy walked away with children right in front of their moms (he had permission to try, of course):
As you can see, telling your kid not to talk to strangers isn’t enough. Practice is what matters. Practice and knowing the fact that it doesn’t take a hurricane or an EMP to take your kid away from you.
Talking to a co-worker (that your child doesn’t know) to try this experiment, fail, talk to your child and then trying again until he gets it is a good way to go about it.
Whether you decide to bug in or bug out to a different location, you’ll most likely have to live off your stockpile plus the extra sources of food and water you will find.
Homesteading is hard work but also safe for children. To make sure they’ll be ready to help take some of the load off when things will look bleak, you can teach them:
- how to knead dough
- how to make poultices using mortar and pestle
- how to wash clothes by hand
- how to feed chicken and other farm animals
- how to dry herbs
- basic gardening tasks
- how to milk cows and goats
How to Use Walkie-Talkies, CB and HAM Radio
Ham radio is not straightforward to use even for adults, let alone for children. They might be geniuses on their smartphones and phones, but this type of electronics is different. Besides, who has time to learn how to use those devices DURING a disaster? It’ll be way too much pressure.
What to Do In an Emergency
While not an actual skill, this is something they absolutely must learn and practice:
- how to shut off utilities
- how to use a water BOB and other containers to make last-minute water supplies when you hear word that disaster will strike
- how to use an emergency radio to hear the news
- how to contact you and where to go if they cannot reach you
Starting a Fire
This is obviously one of the most important bushcraft skills one can learn but, given that plan A for most people is to bug in and that having a small child is all the more reason to do so, I decided not to put it high on my list.
Obviously, children should not start be starting fires without adult supervision, but when you’re all bug out together, this is one way they can help. The bow drill and the hand drill methods take time to ignite those first sparks, so this is something they can definitely do.
Of course, you want to be near them at all times. You should also teach them to use protective equipment when doing these drills (work gloves, goggles and to avoid t-shirts and shorts so none of those sparks land on their skin).
Making and repairing clothes
OK, so boys won’t be into knitting and crocheting, but they should still learn how to use thread and a needle to re-condition clothes. It’s obvious you won’t have the means to buy new ones post-collapse; those holes need to be patched and those buttons need to be re-attached. Easy.
This is yet another easy task for them to do, although they can still injure themselves (by slipping, falling, getting stung by thorns or by stinging nettle). Still, foraging is fun and easy when precaution measures are taken.
Most of the time should be spent, of course, learning to recognize wild edibles. Don’t forget to install one of those apps with pictures on their phones, they shouldn’t rely on just their memory in a survival situation (if at all possible).
What’s next? Like I said, you should start with one, maybe two skills to focus on. Once they become good at them, you can move on to others but make sure you come back to them every now and then to refresh their memory. Good luck and have fun!
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