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Your Kids Need Their Own Disaster Bag

Your Kids Need Their Own Disaster Bag
By: Linda Mansolillo, Founder and CEO, LadyBugOut

Teaching disaster planning around the world as a military reservist has given me tremendous insight on this extremely complicated topic. I have led classes of government, civilian and military disaster planning experts on four continents to train them on many aspects of disaster planning -- from understanding the larger strategic picture to tactical elements such sheltering, evacuations, safety & security, recovery & resiliency and psychological responses.

One area we focus on during our disaster planning courses is the care for our most vulnerable populations -- the elderly and children. Despite teaching this course and thinking I know a lot on the topic, the birth of my daughter created an epiphany. While I was prepared for her physical needs in the case of a natural disaster, I was unprepared to address her real needs. I started researching and talking with my disaster planning teacher colleagues and military experts. What I found was that adult-centric disaster plans do not address a child’s holistic, developmental and psychological needs. Our family’s disaster plan had to change.

A disaster plan should be tailored for your family’s unique needs. As the caretaker of your family, you want to make sure that everyone in your family -- no matter how young -- knows what they’re preparing for, what to do, where to meet, who to call, and much more. Other elements of a good plan include each member having their own 72 hour disaster bag, or “bugout” bag, ideally one in your car, home and school.

Most children’s disaster bags on the market are a smaller version of an adult bag. But children’s needs are different than an adult’s and their bags should be unique as well.

7 ways your kids’ disaster bag should differ from yours:

1. Get them involved! Interaction and practice can make kids feel less scared.
2. Pack as many things as you can that kids are familiar with, i.e. brands or other items they trust.
3. Ensure items used are appropriately sized, and that your children can use them on their own, without help from an adult.
4. Place heavy emphasis on comfort. Include personal mementos you pick together.
5. Find shelf-stable snacks that focus on high calorie nutrition. Liquid is key.
6. Make it fun! Find ways to engage your children such as quizzing them on memorizing one local and one out of town phone number.
7. As in all things in life… don’t take any list given to you as perfect for your family, modify, and make it personal.

If you want help creating your family disaster plan, come to our workshop at Pump Station on January 3 and join me and two amazing women (ER Dr and Clinical Psychologist) for an interactive session.

Until then, stay safe!
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