Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prepare SHTF: School Emergency Kits

With August drawing to a close, the "back to school" sales begin in earnest around the country. While the wife and kids hit the big box retailers for clothes, lunch boxes and three-ring binders, you and I are going shopping too. Just for some other back to school stuff..

Your child needs a school emergency kit. Why? Very likely, you have a imagined a scenario where you are at work or home and the children are miles away at school waiting for you to come get them. It is best to have them prepared with a few supplies which might help them out during the interim.

First, your child already has a bag for their school emergency kit; their backpack. Yes, they already have books, lunch and what not in their backpack, but there is always room for a few more things.

Food -

Your child will need food for their school emergency kit. Add a few protein bars, Ramen noodle packets or spam singles. Combined, they will be part of a three day/800 calorie a day food supplement. Tuck some hard candy into an outer pocket as well. Don't forget, your child will have their lunch and there may be additional food sources available from the school cafeteria. Train your kids now to know where to track down food sources for them and their friends in the event of an emergency.

Water -

Water is invaluable in the school emergency kit. Two things - At least one bottle of water in the backpack for emergencies only and an additional water storage container. My kids have half liter water bottles they take to school. They know to refill them from the water fountains when they run low. If possible, add a low cost reusable water filter to the school emergency kit. Make sure kids know where water can be found at school; the water fountains, cafeteria, bathroom fountains, etc. Drink tap water first and save sealed water bottles for last.

Lighting -

An emergency kit should always take lighting into consideration. Include a sturdy AA flashlight and two light sticks. Put those light sticks in an outer pocket or in the bottom of the backpack wrapped in foil or in a sealed ziplock bag.

Communication -

Emergency kits mean emergency communications. Most kids older than 10 have cell phones. Even if you need to pick up a "pay as you go" pre-paid phone for emergencies, do it. Always make sure kids know which number to reach you and other trusted adults.

Am option might be a two way family radio service radio. If you choose this route, make sure it runs on AA batteries like the flashlight.

Warmth/Bedding -

If your child is stuck at school or in the bus overnight, staying warm might be important. Pick up at least one folding rain poncho. They cost less than a dollar at the sporting goods store. Get one of those reflective blankets. Add at least one spare pair of socks as well.

Work gloves are useful as well.

Additional -

The school emergency kit should include one bottle of hand sanitizer (travel sized of course), an N95 face mask, and a pair of nitrile gloves. All of these things are invaluable, "when used correctly" during a potential pandemic or to even to avoid nuclear fallout.

Protection -

You know the zero tolerance policy so avoid adding anything to your school emergency kit which might be considered a weapon. Instead, make sure your child's kit includes a small first aid kit and a good whistle.

Most of all, include in your school emergency kit the one thing which cannot be bought in a store - knowledge. Prepare and train your child for a variety of short term and long term emergencies. Knowing what to do when the time comes up saves lives.

Back to school is a busy time. Don't forget to make emergency preparedness plans for your child which includes their school emergency kit.

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