Emergency Preparedness: The Quintessential Must-Haves to Survive Disaster

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Last Updated on October 21, 2020

Large earthquakes continue to wreak havoc across the United States and abroad, and the U.S. Geological Survey has increased the likelihood that the “Big One” will hit California within the next few decades.

In addition to earthquakes, the CDC warns of other deadly disasters, like tsunamis, wildfires, extreme winter weather and infectious diseases. Meantime, the State Department seems to constantly be issuing new warnings about terrorist threats to Americans.

Catastrophe can strike at any moment. Are you prepared? Are your kids? You need to evaluate your current survival plan and update your emergency preparedness kit. You don’t want to be caught without some of these must have items to survive disaster.

It’s also a great time to educate your kids on survival preparedness and practice your family disaster plan. Involve your kids in putting together and packing their personal bug out bag. Here is everything you should include in your kids’ emergency pack.

Backpack Essentials

Begin with an ordinary school backpack that is not obnoxiously huge and doesn’t stand out. It should be comfortable and not too heavy for your child, because they may have to travel long distances on foot. Let your child choose the bag to help them take ownership of it. Update the pack every six months to ensure all contents are fresh.

(Water is an absolute must for your bag, in addition to these essentials:)

(Enough to last three days, including the following:)


It’s also a great time to educate your kids on survival preparedness and practice your family disaster plan. Involve your kids in putting together and packing their personal bug out bag.

Clothing/Hygiene Products:
(Depends on location and climate. Have the following:)

  • Climate-friendly clothing (gloves, hat, coat if necessary)
  • Change of clothing and underwear
  • Poncho
  • Socks
  • Spare glasses/sunglasses
  • Hygiene kit that includes wipes, toothbrush and paste, hand wash
  • Pocket tissue packs
  • Chapstick
  • Extra medication as needed

Survival Items:
(Parents can carry the majority of survival items, but kids should have a few in case of separation, including:)

Entertainment/ Comfort Items:

Information and Communication

Laminate emergency contact information, including parents’ names, phone numbers and a home address. Also include information for a few close relatives or friends, while including a photo of your child and his or her family members and friends to serve as identification.

Map out directions to different chosen bug-out locations in case your child gets separated from you, and put copies in their packs.

Pack a prepaid mobile phone or satellite phone to ensure they will be in communication with someone at all times.


Stocking up on supplies is easy. But when the time comes to grab the packs and go, it’s best if the family has run through certain scenarios to know exactly where to go and how to get there.

Practice test runs to the mapped out locations you’ve chosen to retreat to when a disaster strikes and be sure the kids could make it there on their own.

The threat of natural and man-made disasters is real, but having supplies and a survival plan will put you ahead of the pack when running for the hills. Get your kids involved so everyone makes it out alive.

Author Bio: Anne-Marie Pritchett – Anne-Marie Pritchett: writer, editor, visionary, world traveler, outdoor enthusiast, urban bohemian, music freak, sports addict.

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Do you realize just how much space a football will take up? Use that space for items that will help keep you alive and ditch the football!


That football suggestion makes me question any advice you might have convinced me was useful.


A little devils advocate…a football doesn’t take up much space if it’s flat.


What good does a flat football do you? Unless, of course, you bring an air pump which takes up even more space that could be used for critical items. Besides, only an idiot would stop and burn up all of that energy playing football when you are going to need all of your strength just to stay alive. Sorry, but the football was a bad idea…


Flat football, what use is it in middle of a crisis where there is no way to pump it? I guess you can make a pair or emergency shoes from them if you had to.

William Luke

A frisby takes a lot less space and probably more kids are comfortable playing with it anyway.

shawn mcelroy

a frisby is also a great plate. A local diner uses promotional frisbys as a plate for their kids meals. we have a stack.

Linda S

If your child takes medication that is required, or needs, for instance, an epi pen, teach them as young as possible how to be responsible for taking that. If you should become separated from your child it’s important they know when & how to take their meds.

R. Ann

For kids, especially younger or smaller kids, it may work best to do a backpack with the absolute bare-bones (undies and rain suit, SOS type bars), and then a backpack with wheels or wheely carry-on that has a little more in it, to include any entertainment not on a cell phone and deck of cards. Survival water is at least a half-gallon, usually a gallon gets pushed (and in a lot of summer climates, we need it). That’s 10-24# alone for 3 days. Dehydrated fruit doesn’t need water but its also lower-calorie, and any other dehy foods have to have… Read more »


Most important word you used in the article…. “Practice”.
Y-all had better practice your “Plan” or all of the rest is for not.


Too much stuff is listed for a child’s back pack. Also the cost of the items listed adds up. Typical of preparedness porn.


Bug out? Please tell me where to go that would be any better. Those people are probably roving the streets toward you.




frisbee..and cards… NOT a football things you bring need multiple uses. frisbees are fun.. carry water soup.. food..etc.. pack literally flat not sure the last time you bought a knife… consider a multitool.. SW knives are fine for something… but are not durable enough for survival. no where is anything listed for firestarting.. fire being a very basic comfort item. If I am packing a BASIC bug out bag.. spare anything is extra weight and space. (glasses, canteen and waterbag?etc.) You pack an awful lot … especially for kids. Football.. coloring book and crayons? How about a pencil and notepad..… Read more »


what’s the face mask for??

R. Ann

I’d guess dust and debris. An N95 will help with some smoke (especially doubled up). A disposable cup style isn’t going to offer the protection of an N99 or seal well, especially on a small child or small person or with glasses, but a lot of disaster sites are dusty and smoky and it’ll cut it. I’m holding off suggesting any kind of germ reduction because a child under 12-14 isn’t likely to have one fit well enough or keep their hands off it and follow the protocols for removing PPE, and there aren’t any disposable gloves listed with it.… Read more »

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