Episode 126 S4-2
Bugging Out With Children
Battle for the South Ch 2
In Battle for the South, Master Sergeant Patrick Bennet begins the hunt for Vince and Erika. His first task is to find out if they took their youngest son with them. Today we explore the considerations parents must make when bugging out with children with special guest Blake Alma, host of the Outdoor Experience on the Hunt channel.
Natural disasters pose a serious threat. The most important thing you can do is prepare your children for an emergency evacuation or "bug-out" situation is talking with them in advance. They have to understand a day might come when they will have to carry their special back pack, "go-bag," and leave the house. Talk to them about the importance of their "go-bag" and allow them to choose a few personal items to add to it. Get them used to being in the outdoors and start teaching them basic survival skills before you ever attempt a major hunting or fishing experience. The basic bush craft skills are essential preparation for a young person. The more you plan with your children the more they will understand when the time comes to put your planning into action.
Keeping your children in the dark about possible disaster scenarios can do them a major injustice and could result in the loss of your child. Parents are sometime fearful to discuss serious topics like this because we don't want to scare our children. However, I can tell you from personal experience, that an emergency evacuation is very stressful, even for the adults. As a child, with no idea of what is going on, the stress can be much more extreme. Do them a favor, and talk to them first. If you don't talk to your children before they are in situations where serious consequences can occur, they will be completely vulnerable. In an urban environment you should be talking to them about strangers, kidnappers, first aid and urban survival tactics. While in a rural setting the focus should be on bush craft skills, possible dangers of getting lost or someone getting hurt, first aid, etc.
There are a wide array of emotions that your child will experience while on this journey. Children are going to complain...a lot. The weight of a bag will add to their misery. There are many stories from the past explaining horrible scenarios of mothers smothering babies when they needed to keep them quiet. Plan for the contingency that you may need to keep your child quiet somehow. It may seem outrageous but you can make ether rather easily and it would be better to knock your child out. Remember that children like to explore. You need to explain to them the dangers of leaving you so that they do not wander. If the situation arises that you need to carry your child you will have to find a way to carry the child, their bag, and your bag.
Each member of the household should have their own "go-bag," including children. Let your children visit playgrounds often so they build the muscle structure needed to carry their bag on a long journey. At ages four to six-ish, they won't be able to walk very far or carry very much. For them five to eight pounds is a heavy load. At around ten a child is able to carry about ten to twenty pounds, depending on the child's muscle structure. One idea you might employ is switching out their heavy gear in their pack for the light gear in your pack. The only problem with that would be what if you get separated. Remember that water is very heavy. Give them a camel pack and you carry the bulk of the water. They key is to let them grow their muscles through play.
It is always a good idea to carry a "cheer up" item, something that will keep them happy and energized. This item should be something they love the most, for many kids that is tech or candy. However, it could be a favorite teddy bear or blanket. In a survival situation you will want to conserve tech batteries, but if you are out leisurely hiking it is a great way to get your child to finish out the hike without being carried home. Children can usually go a lot further than they think, these cheer up items can help incentivize them to do so.
Children grow out of shoes a lot but you should still invest in a quality pair of hiking boots for them. If they are getting blisters, they will not be moving very far. If you can't afford it, look for local exchanges. Save them and hand them down to younger siblings. If you have to evacuate, bring a pair of boots that are the next size up for your child.
Their are many opinions about what age is appropriate for a child to start learning to use a firearm. This largely depends upon the amount of preparation you have instilled in the child. Start with a nerf gun and teach proper gun handling etiquette from day one. Then advance the child to a b.b. gun to a air rifle and pistol and then into a .22 caliper. Safety and trust are the most important things the child must master to be able to handle a firearm. If you are not comfortable with them shooting, they can always reload weapons.
Self-defense principles can be taught straight away. Even a very young child is capable of attacking soft targets. They can be taught to kick and scream, buying them time or drawing the attention of others.
Give the children tasks so they feel like productive parts of society. Younger children can gather materials but you don't want them getting lost. Make sure they are kept in pairs or small groups. Older children can be of use hunting small game and making traps. Teach your children the tasks you want them to do and they will be able to do it. Include them in your plans and share it with them. Prepare them now so they know what to do when the time comes!
The Changing Earth Series
Blake Alma is an award-winning writer, TV & radio host, and published author. He is also the founder/editor at The Art of an Outdoorsman and editor-in-chief at Survivalist Daily. He hosts and produces The Outdoorsman's Art Radio Show and The Outdoor Experience on Hunt Channel. Blake loves and pursues the outdoors and its Creator with all that he has. Some of Blake's favorite outdoor activities include survival, trapping, hunting, fishing, and camping.