The Organic Prepper: Bugging Out with Babies and Toddlers

This article from Diane Vukovic at The Organic Prepper is adapted from a chapter in her book Disaster Preparedness for Women. This is an excerpt from Bugging Out with Babies and Toddlers.

Building a Go Bag for just yourself is challenging enough. When you have to calculate family members into the plan – especially babies or toddlers – things can get really complicated.

There’s no one perfect solution. You have to think about what makes sense for your family and what disasters you are preparing for. Here are some insights and things to think about when making Bug Out Bags for babies and small children.

Planning a BOB Bag for Babies or Toddlers

If you have small children, it’s even more important you make a solid evacuation plan which includes a safe bug out location. You need to be prepared to leave quickly and early so you can avoid crowds and worsening weather and travel conditions. Hopefully you have your own vehicle so you can keep it packed and get on the road quickly.

But even the best-laid plans can go to hell.

Always keep Bug Out Bags ready to go. Pack them with the idea you might have to ditch your vehicle and walk, potentially through rain, deep water, at night, or in other really terrible conditions.

Bug Out Gear for Babies and Toddlers

Ideally, a Bug Out Bag should weigh no more than 20% of your body weight. Otherwise the bag will be too heavy to carry, especially if you have to go over tough terrain or run. However, there’s really not a good way to travel light with a baby in tow. They need supplies like diapers, wipes, creams, bottles, and formula.

I personally found it easier to travel with infants than toddlers. Infants might cry a lot and use up more diapers, but they are content to cuddle in a front carrier. By contrast, my toddler wants to constantly run around. I worry about losing her in crowds as well as keeping her clean when she decides to run through a giant puddle.

If you aren’t sure what items you really need for evacuating with your small kids, I recommend going on a family camping trip. Even better, go on a backpacking trip. You’ll get a crash course in what it’s like to get by with minimal supplies as well as what’s essential versus what’s nice to have.

Below are some of the key Bug Out gear you need for babies and small children. At the end of the article, you can find a complete list of baby BOB items.

Strollers and Carriers

My younger daughter is currently 18 months old. She’s already over 20lbs. Combined with the weight of my Bug Out Bag, it’s a lot to carry! Luckily I’ve got a pretty tough stroller I could use to push her as well as haul her supplies. But strollers aren’t exactly the ideal solution for evacuating.

In 2015, I witnessed firsthand the Syrian refugee plight in Europe. I remember seeing Syrian refugees with children trying to roll strollers through thick mud and over rough terrain. Many ended up abandoning the strollers and carrying their kids instead. Others were forced to abandon the strollers when entering cramped boats or buses.

I’d recommend getting a good baby carrier for your child to have as a backup to a stroller. Most carriers are backpack style, which means you’d have to wear your Go Bag on your front. Or you could get a front carrier for your child and wear the Bug Out Bag on your back. Neither option is ideal because you easily get off-balanced and can topple over.

After carrying my heavy baby on many hikes, I’ve learned that trekking poles are a Godsend. They allow me to stay balanced even when carrying a heavy weight and help redistribute the weight so there isn’t as much strain on my back.

Even with a good stroller, be realistic about what shape you are in. Can you actually carry your child and a Bug Out Bag for a long distance? This illustrates how important it is to have a solid evacuation plan and leave as soon as you can and hopefully won’t end up carrying your child.

Clothing

For clothing, choose items that can be worn in layers to regulate temperature better. It also makes it easier to keep kids clean.

Backpacking with my children taught me that rain suits are a parent’s best friend. You can let your kids crawl or run freely without having to worry about them getting wet and covered in mud. When you only have three changes of clothes packed for your kids, you definitely don’t want them to get wet or dirty!

Formula

Even if you exclusively breastfeed your child, you’ll still want to stockpile infant formula. There are scenarios where you could end up injured or separated from your baby and unable to breastfeed. While it isn’t common, there are also situations where a mother’s milk “dries up,” such as from stress, illness, poor diet, and certain medications.

The main issue with formula is that you need to sterilize the bottles and nipples. You’ll also need to make sure your hands are clean beforehand. This is especially important in disaster situations where contaminants are all around.

You could pack a stove, pot, and extra water for sterilizing bottles. However, it takes a lot of time and water to get the bottles and nipples clean. An alternative option is to pack “bottle sterilizing tablets.” To use the tablets, you put the clean bottles and nipples in clean water then add a tablet and let everything soak. Yes, this method still requires extra water, but not nearly as much as with traditional sterilization methods.

You can also avoid sterilizing completely by using pre-sterilized bottles or bottle liners. While these are more expensive, it is probably worth getting at least three days’ worth for your Bug Out Bag.

Diapers

You’ll want to pack at least three days’ worth of diapers in your Bug Out Bag. You can save space by vacuum sealing diapers.

You might end up needing a lot more diapers than this though. As a backup, you could pack several cloth diapers and covers. It’s really impractical to try to clean cloth diapers while bugging out, but it’s better to have them than risk running out of diapers.

Consider packing diapers or Pull-Ups for potty-trained children too. The last thing you or your child wants to worry about during a disaster is potty accidents.

Baby/Toddler Bug Out Bag Gear Checklist

These items are in addition to the other BOB gear you need, such as food, shelter, a knife, and survival tools.

  • • Baby formula or food
    • Pre-sterilized bottles and nipples, disposable bottle inserts, and/or bottle sterilizing tablets
    • Baby medications
    • Diaper changing kit
    • Disposable diapers
    • Several cloth diapers and covers
    • 2-3 changes of clothing for layering
    • Extra underwear for potty-trained children
    • Rain suit
    • Plastic bags for soiled clothes
    • Sleeping bag or sack
    • Toys/comfort items
    • Pacifiers with clips
    • Child harness and leash (for walking children; useful so you don’t lose your child in crowds)
    • Stroller
    • Carrier and trekking poles
    • Child-sized N95 respirator or hood (talk to your pediatrician about this)
    • Multivitamins…

AYWtGS: Handling Quarantine with Kids

Karen at A Year Without the Grocery Store has an article up – Got Kids? How Do You Handle a Coronavirus Quarantine With Them? – with some suggestions on handling quarantine without going crazy.

We all love our children.  But despite that love, want to see parents cringe quickly?  Tell them that they are going to be stuck inside with their children for three months or more.  More than that, they cannot leave their home.

That thought in itself is incredibly overwhelming!  Add to it, getting ready to cut yourselves off from the world, it’s enough to devastate any parent.  How do you handle being cooped up with your kids for months on end?  Don’t stress, there are answers that don’t include 24/7 TV.

Let me start by saying, I’m a mom to five kids ages 8-17.  I don’t take the notion of being stuck inside my home for months with my kids lightly.  While younger kids will have an easier time staying home, older kids are going to feel the isolation much more.

So how do we handle a quarantine with kids?

When I was pregnant with my second set of twins, I was in the hospital every week for a non-stress test.  I had a friend who was pregnant at the same time.  She was hospitalized with placenta previa.  She wasn’t just hospitalized for a week or two.  No, she was hospitalized for more than TWELVE weeks.  And during that time, she was mostly confined to half of a small room.

How in the world did she keep herself sane being remanded to that small room for so long?  Some of her tips and tricks will work for us as we talk about how we’re going to help our kids (and ourselves) through what could be a long quarantine.

(1) Start Your Day Off Healthy

Make sure that you are starting your day off with a multi-vitamin, vitamin C, and a probiotic.  I would also suggest that you spend time in God’s word and prayer at the beginning of your day.  We love to sing together as a family, and this would be a good time to do that as well.

(2) Make sure your kids are learning.

Whether you homeschool or not, make sure that your kids are still learning.   Even if you send your kids to school, make sure that they are bringing their school books home with them as you get closer to keeping them home from school in a quarantine.   Or you could put together a school kit so that you will always have items to help your children learn if they can’t go to school.

For me, it’s really simple.  I have three children still in school.  And since we homeschool, they will all continue doing their school just like normal.  That will go a HUGE way toward helping things still feel normal.

What about older kids who have graduated and are working while still living at home?  Make sure that you have conversations with them now about when you are going to tell them that they can’t continue working for a while.  Have them talk to their employers NOW to manage expectations.

These older children should still be learning!  As I was going through totes today taking stock of everything for our quarantine, I found suture needles and other implements for doing stitches and practice skin.  Find a YouTube video on practice suturing and have them learn how to do sutures.  Or have you or your kids ever made bread or noodles from scratch?  Why not use some of that time to learn how to do a new skill?

(3) Make sure that you and your kids are moving daily.

If you have little kids, it’s obvious why they should do physical activity every day.  But what about older kids who aren’t bouncing off the walls?  Why should they (and you) exercise daily?

Studies have shown that mice were divided into three groups and all infected with the flu.  One group was sedentary.  One group jogged on a wheel for 20-30 minutes (modest activity for mice), and another group of mice was kept on a wheel for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.  Fifty percent of the sedentary group died.  SEVENTY percent of the mice who ran for 2 1/2-3 hours died!  Only 12 percent of the mice who were kept on the wheel for 20-30 minutes died.

Even if you aren’t going to expose yourself to the virus, keeping your body moving a modest amount can help your body better handle whatever is thrown at it.

Now, not everyone has a treadmill or a stationary bike, I get that.  But do you have Amazon Prime?  You can learn (or practice) yoga with your kids using this free video.  Don’t like yoga?  Here’s an exercise video called “Marching Low Impact.”  Or buy a digital copy of “Sweating to the Oldies” and sweat (and laugh and laugh) with your kids.

(4)  Play at least one game a day with your kids. 

This is a great time to spend time playing some of those games that you don’t play regularly either because you haven’t taken the time to learn them or because they take a little more time to play.

Do you have two decks of cards?  All you need is a Hoyle Card book, and you’ll have hours of fun at your hands.

Another thing that might fall into this category is putting together puzzles.

(5) Take a skill that you have to the next level.

Do you have a skill that you enjoy – like knitting?  Take it to the next level.  Maybe you could learn how to do cables or knit in multiple colors.  I’ve learned a bit about spinning, but don’t take a lot of time to actually practice it.  This would be the perfect time to take that skill to the next level.

How Do You Handle a Quarantine with Kids?(6) Schedule time for kids to talk with their friends using Facetime or Skype.

Only one of our kids has a cell phone.  And her cell phone is one for which we purchase minutes.  That means that calls aren’t a regular part of our kids lives.  Even if your kids have cell phones, talking with friends makes so much more of an impact when they can see them.

What if your kids could ‘virtually’ get together with their friends regularly during a quarantine?  They would be able share stories of what’s going on, what they are learning, and the time would pass so much faster.

(7) Enjoy movies and TV shows in moderation.

There are few things that make me feel more claustrophobic than sitting in front of a screen watching mindless TV too long.  I will often feel the need to get up and do something when I’ve got an Amazon or Netflix show going too much.  But that being said, sometimes, we just need to let our minds go to a more fun place and a movie or a TV show can do that for us.

(8) Most Importantly set a routine for your days.  How Do You Handle a Quarantine with Kids?

I say this last because I wanted to give you a lot of options for filling a routine.  Why do you need a routine?

When I was pregnant with my second set of twins, I was in the hospital on a weekly basis for non-stress tests.  I had a friend who was pregnant at the same time, but she was admitted to the hospital because of placenta previa and was at high risk for hemorrhaging.

The thing is that she wasn’t just in the hospital for one or two weeks, she was in the hospital for TWELVE weeks!  She wasn’t just confined to the limits of the hospital.  She was almost exclusively confined to her small hospital room, which she had to share with another person from time to time.

How did she keep from going crazy while she was confined to such a small space?!?

The most important thing that she did (by her own admission) was to set a routine for her day.  She would start it with time in God’s word and prayer.  Then she would spend around two hours scrapbooking.  After that, she would watch TV for about two hours.  Then she would work on a crocheting something for an hour or two.  Her kids and her husband would come and visit her for a couple of hours later in the day.  She would spend some time reading after that.  Then she would spend some time coloring in a coloring book.

Her routine kept her from going completely stir crazy.  So I want you to take 10-15 minutes and using activities from above or others that you come up with on your own to set a schedule for yourself and your children so that you have a routine for when you all are quarantined.

Will the routine change once you get into your quarantine?  Absolutely!  Some things will work.  Some things won’t work as you envisioned them, but you’ll be giving yourself a framework for your family.  Change it around, turn it on its head if need be.  But make sure that you actually have a routine so that everyone doesn’t go completely crazy!

What About You?

What other ideas do you have on how to keep your kids from going crazy during a quarantine?  How long do you anticipate that your family will need to be in quarantine?  Are you concerned about missing any really big events because of the quarantine?  I’d love to hear!  Share with us in the comments so that we can all be better prepared.

Together lets Love, Learn, Practice, and Overcome!

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Personal Defense World: How and When to Start Teaching Kids to Shoot

Personal Defense World has an article up 5 Experts on How and When You Should Start Teaching Kids to Shoot

To train or not to train? That is the loaded question. In a world with extreme conservative versus liberal views and a media that spins numbers with misleading statistics, you will find some varying passionate answers to this question. When should you start teaching kids to shoot?

If you’re looking up statistics, I would urge you to proceed with caution. There is a lot of “spin.” While the numbers may be correct, the way they are presented is typically deceptive to serve propaganda purposes. For example, you will see certain numbers for “children killed by guns” per year. The information you are not getting is that, in these stats, a child is considered anyone under the age of 21. So while your mind is picturing a young child who has accidentally shot his or herself or someone else, the reality is that the majority are older teens and young adults who have intentionally committed a crime. Guns do not kill people. People with ill intent wielding guns do. I believe there is a greater need for fixing our moral compass rather than expand gun control.

There are cases, however, where a child has found a firearm and horrible accidents have occurred. This can be totally thwarted with proper education and training. If you have firearms in your home as well as children, you have a responsibility to educate and train them on gun safety. Taking it a step further, training them to shoot under your guidance is even more beneficial.

To get a better understanding in this area, I asked five firearms experts to weigh in on how and when to begin training young shooters.

Fred Mastison — President of Force Options Tactical Training Solutions

I am a firm believer in teaching kids to shoot. There are many reasons for this, but two main points are safety and self-confidence. If you have firearms in the home, it is important that kids understand them in totality. Not only that they are potentially dangerous, but if they are treated with respect, they can be enjoyable. Kids that learn to shoot safely and correctly gain a level of self-confidence that is tough to find elsewhere…

Click here to read the entire article at PDW.