Emergency Disaster Preparedness for Kids - What to Pack in Your Children's Grab-and-Go Backpack Bag
Updated: 2 days ago
not a fun thing to think about, but definitely a necessity to be sure you ready for life’s unexpected moments.
It's no secret that I have felt overwhelmed by the enormity of this Emergency Prep Project so I am taking my time and breaking it down into simple steps so I don’t feel stressed! #babysteps
And here are the steps I've taken so far...
(Note: The links in this post are AMAZON affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our full disclaimer policy here.)
And now it’s week #3 of our family’s emergency preparedness journey, and we are focusing on prepping the kids with grab-and-go bags.
Essentially, a grab-and-go bag is a bag that each child in the family would grab in case there was an emergency that has a few basics to get them through a few days away from home.
So what exactly goes inside?
Well, I created this handy little checklist to help you get your items together for your kids!
Well while I was at it, I decided to make one for them too...
In the printable checklist worksheets above, I essentially broke things down into four basic categories: Clothing, Toiletries, Important, and Misc.
I also left a few black spaces on the checklists for you to write any specific or personalized things your kids might need.
So let's now go step-by-step explaining how to put these bags together!
First, you need to have a bag of some sort to pack all of your items in. We found ours in the clearance section at Walmart ($3 holla' 🙌🏽), but you can use any bag/backpack/tote you have laying around your house!
In the clothing category, you want to pack at least one day's worth of clothing…keep in mind, this is not a fashion show, choose things that will fit (even if your kids grow a bit) and are comfy and versatile.
Here's what we packed:
- Short-sleeved shirt
We also chose apparel that is appropriate for the Southern California climate. If you live someplace where it snows or gets really cold, you may want to pack additional cold-weather items (sweater, boots, gloves, mitten, scarf, and hat).
One quick tip…pack old shoes in a sealed plastic bag. We packed shoes that were already worn and wanted to be sure that they didn’t leave any odor on the contents of the bag.
For the toiletries, think about what you would need to survive a few days. For us, that’s just the basics, nothing fancy here:
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Body Wash & Washcloth
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Soap & Lotion
I have teens in my house, so we also added feminine supplies, deodorant, and disposable razors too. And a few hair ties...I mean, a girl's gotta look good even in a crisis!
If you have a child with prescription glasses or contacts, you may want to pack a backup pair of each and a small travel size bottle of contact solution.
Got any kids in braces? Be sure to add any special items then need…flossers or wax.
For each of my kids, we packed travel-sized items, and many of those were freebies we have accumulated from hotels. The dollar store or the travel section of a discount store also have small, easy to pack toiletries for bargain prices!
Under the important category, most of the items on our list are things the kids use daily, and we do not want to have them packed away. So we denoted them on the checklist with an * asterisk because those items would need to be grabbed at the time of evacuation.
For kids, those items are any money, photo id, phone/charger, computer/iPad, and favorite must-have toys. If your child has any medications or medical devices (inhaler, blood sugar monitor, EpiPen, etc.), be sure to add those to your list!
I made an Emergency ID card for my kids that goes in their bags, and I plan to update it each year. If you click on the image below you can print out one for yourself...and if you want to get really fancy, you can laminate it to make it extra sturdy!
We often rely on our cell phones to give us emergency numbers, but if there is a disaster with no cell service or in case of a dead phone battery, I also printed out a physical copy of important numbers to keep in each kid's backpacks.
You can get a sheet customized for your state at: https://childsafetyexperts.com/emergency-numbers/
For teens, you may also want them to grab any important photos, electronics, keepsakes, or jewelry. Have them add those important items to their printed list so they don't even have to think about it if an emergency occurs!
The final category is basically a hodgepodge of necessary items.
On our list, we have a small bottle of water and a few snacks.
These items are not meant to be sustenance for 3 days because will be packing a family supply of food and water separately, but just a few snacks to get you through a short period of time if needed!
We also added a travel size first aid kit (a large one will be packed in the family emergency supplies), a face mask, and hand sanitizer. Oh, and an extra roll of TP, well, because ya know...it's 2020! 🧻😷🦠
Teens and kids may also want to add any entertainment or comfort items too (playing cards, stuffed animals, special blankets, or pillows). For my son, he’s probably gonna grab his basketball as a comfort item! :)
6. Review and Practice
Once your bags are fully packed, you should gather as a family and review what is in the bags. Be sure to remind your kids about what situation they would grab these bags. I would recommend even doing a role-play/practice drill with smaller children.
For example, if the house is on fire, get out….do not look for the backpack. Escaping the house quickly is the most important focus for that situation.
But, if we are having a wildfire evacuation, (which has happened to us here in San Diego) and you safely have time to gather your items, then find your bag, add the necessary unpacked items, and find a parent to leave.
Don't assume your children know when is the right time to leave immediately or when you have time to safely grab-and-go!
Now, where do you store these bags once they are packed?
Ultimately it’s up to you depending on what works best for your family.
Since I have teens, each kid will keep their own backpack in their room under the bed, so they can literally grab it and go if they need to leave quickly.
If my kids were younger and less self-sufficient, I would keep all bags in a centralized location in the home so that the adults in the house could help load them in the car in case of emergency.
As you can see, it’s not too difficult to put together these emergency bags, and you will be so glad you have them ready to roll if you should ever need them!
And listen, if this still feels like too much work, you can make it easier on yourself and just grab a premade kid's emergency bag on Amazon....doesn't get much simpler than that!!
Up next in the Emergency Prep fun train (I mean this is "fun" right? 🤪)... packing the parent grab-and-go bags and prepping the emergency food supply.
Just in case you missed the last two weeks, you can find them here:
Until next time, cheers to being prepared, and cheers to you!🥂