Help Your Child Prepare a Go-BagBy Rev. Dr. Toby Nelson, Disaster Pastor
Empower your child to survive a disaster by helping him or her to assemble their own personal Go-Bag. Making a Go-Bag will equip them with tools and resources, and boost their confidence to face the future. This concrete action will reduce your child’s anxious feelings of being out of control, helpless, and vulnerable.
To help them to prepare, make this a fun event. Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen in your area. You will be impressed at the hazards they may already know.
Determine and practice the best escape routes from your home, school, church, and other places they frequent. (Parents: learn the disaster plans for your children’s school, church, etc.)
Pick a place to meet:
In front of your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
Or, at a trusted neighbor’s home.
Go to a store with your child to try on several back packs for comfort and one that will be appropriate for their size when it is full. If money is tight, use last year’s back pack.
Then, help your children assemble their own Go-Bag, allowing them to add what they would like.
Go-Bag Contents and Helps:
Clothes, coat and shoes. Because your child grows, change out their clothes twice a year: perhaps at the beginning and end of the school year. Be conscious of seasonal temperatures when selecting clothes, warmer clothes for winter, etc. Include shoes in case they leave during the night.
Place items in several plastic zip lock bags
Pajamas and underwear, two pair of socks
Toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, hand towel
Comb or brush, a small mirror for grooming and signaling
Non-disposable hard plastic plate, cup, fork and spoon
Small flash light and a couple of fresh batteries. Consider adding a chem light.
A whistle to use as a locator. Have them practice using it, outside.
A family picture with extended family members. On the back, label whose who. Print out identification and contact information, including emails and cell phone numbers. Place this in its own zip lock bag. Parents, include in your go-bag a picture of your child to use with the media.
Include a consent form signed by parents authorizing grandparents permission to act as parents in case of emergency. A hand written statement is fine.
If a child has a significant medical or other condition, spell it out. If a child wears glasses, include the old pair.
Tasty and fresh energy bars and a bottled water.
Include a dehydrated mac and cheese dinner.
Games, a book, crayon, pencil and paper, tablet
Have your child choose something comforting, such as a small stuffed animal.
Medications and a few band aids. Have your child practice putting on a band aid.
Small packet of sanitary wipes to wash his or her body. Include a washcloth.
Foil type solar blanket
A partial roll of toilet paper
A tiny bottle of Purell for hand cleaner
A tiny tube of sunscreen and hat
A trash bag that can serve as a poncho
A plastic cover for the ground. Cut to twice the size of their body.
Now it is time for both of you to take a hike around the block with your Go-Bags. Along the way, adjust the straps of each child’s Go-Bag for comfort and balance. A Go-Bag should not weigh more than 25% of a child’s weight. If it is too heavy on this trial run, then have them remove an item to lighten the load. Practice going to your designated neighbor. After you make your way back home, take a treat from their bags. Place their Go-Bag in the front door hall closet along with yours.
Designate the next Friday as a camp out night when the family pitches a tent in the backyard to practice using the items in their Go-Bag. You will likely carry out their pillow, sleeping bag and favorite blanket. If the weather does not permit, you can use the living room floor. Don’t forget to bring the popcorn.
After this event, your child may be almost excited for a disaster to happen so he or she can practice their new skill set. When you help your child grow in competencies, their confidence follows. Have fun!