Advice and Recommedations for Childs Survival Kit

Seems like at least one kid somehow gets lost every year, never to be seen again in so many cases. That always hurts when I read about it because it can be prevented. The first thing is training in what NOT to do. But the first item of equipment kids need is a good whistle, maybe even two just in case. When they turn up missing, finding the little buggers is the challenge! Teaching them to stay put and help us find them is crucial. Flag tape is an excellent idea! The whistle, a signal mirror (with training in how to use it), a small strobe light, and maybe a couple of convenient ways to make a fire are all important for signaling their location. A bright orange trash bag for shelter is another great idea if they are taught how to deploy it properly. I think a knife comes way down the list unless your kid is extremely well trained in woodcraft. I tend to believe kids of that age (10 + or -) will have a lot of trouble opening and safely closing a folding knife, with the exception being an Opinel (#6, 7, or 8). I'm not sure what they can effectively do with a knife if lost anyway. The whistle is the #1 item they all need, though! That and being taught to sit tight.
 
Something that just occured to me, is teach 'em not to scream for help. At least not more than a couple times. That's what the whistle is for. I know it's painfully obvious to us, but kids need to be taught that yelling will mostly just dry out their throat and make them more uncomfortable. Plus, probably get them wound-up emotionally and more scared. Calmness is a huge bonus in almost any situation. As Douglas Adams said, "Don't Panic!"

They also need to be taught not to try and pet cute lil' racoons and skunks and crawdads and snakes, lol (only half-joking). Although I do admit, I "let" my daughter pet a crawdad... she called me mean when it pinched her finger... but she wasn't injured, and I like to think she gained an appreciation for the fighting spirit of lil' creatures. Would I let her touch a hot stove? No.

I humbly suggest swimming/water safety lessons, too. I got mine at age 9, the old-fashioned way... Dad took me out in the boat and said "jump". Not sure if that's the recommended method of instruction these days! (I should mention that pops taught me to float and doggy paddle in the shallows before he took me out in the deep water. And no-one ever got in his boat or raft without a lifejacket.) The safety is more important than the swimming, IMHO. "When in doubt, stay the hell out!" is a good start. Lots of kids are lost on or next to water, and that's just a horrible thought :(

I'm sure you're all like me, and the last thing you want is to scare your kids out of the woods. But their natural instinct isn't enough, we need to give the little buggers fair warning so they learn to stay out of a survival situation, as well as what to do in a bad spot.

Great posts all around, I'm really enjoying this thread.
 
This thread has really given me some good suggestions since I first posed the question. But some of the comments have also caused me to kind of do an about face on how to prep my kids. The main thing that stuck in my mind is that any kit is worthless unless they have it with them when they are lost. I know my daughter will carry her backpack as long as we are on the trail but my 4 year olds will probably be strapped to mine midway through the trail. Still good beginning training but no good it they get lost. Neither will have it on them if our canoe capsizes on the water and somehow they get separated or if they are walking around the campground. If it’s too big and heavy they won’t carry it around. And without hands on training and experience it doesn’t matter how much you tell them or how much you give them they have to have the experience to remain level headed and do what they need to do. I think today that I am going to backup and start with a minimalist kit that they will always have on them with the backpack kit as a backup. I think that I will start with some sort of belt pouch that I can place an Altoids survival kit in. There should be room for a trash bag, small roll of bright tape, maybe firestarter for an older child, small flashlight, water purification tablets with possibly a ziplock bag for the water, etc. I think that I will do some searches on this forum on various kits and try to gear it toward the younger explorer but suggestions on the basic have to have items that would fit would be appreciated. The whistle is no problem because it’s always on a lanyard around their neck but an extra in a pocket, survival kit, paracord on their walking stick, etc would probably be a good idea. A bright bandana is also easy because with my skinny kids they could wear one or two around their waist, wrapped on their walking stick, around the neck, and so on. I figure that any items on their person are worth more that a backpack full back at camp.
 
A McNett water purifying straw will negate the bladder. Mylar emergency survival blankets are critical, not only for warmth and rain protection, but for signaling. One of those kids cell phones that call 3 numbers would be good as well. Remember that the best thing a kid can do when lost is to hunker down and wait... NOT wander around. This should predicate any and all items in the kit.
Feel free to contact me directly, or peruse my survival pages for more ideas:
http://www.m4040.com/Survival/Survival.htm

The survival kit page has some good gear ideas:
http://www.m4040.com/Survival/Survival Kit.htm
 
A McNett water purifying straw will negate the bladder. Mylar emergency survival blankets are critical, not only for warmth and rain protection, but for signaling. One of those kids cell phones that call 3 numbers would be good as well. Remember that the best thing a kid can do when lost is to hunker down and wait... NOT wander around. This should predicate any and all items in the kit.
Feel free to contact me directly, or peruse my survival pages for more ideas:
http://www.m4040.com/Survival/Survival.htm

The survival kit page has some good gear ideas:
http://www.m4040.com/Survival/Survival Kit.htm

Thanks. I've actually been to your site a couple of times when browsing the web for information on Khukuris. I'll go back and see what kind of survival info I can pick up now.
 
Remember that the best thing a kid can do when lost is to hunker down and wait... NOT wander around. This should predicate any and all items in the kit.

This goes for adults also. It it always harder for us to find a moving target. It should be repeatedly taught to children especially to stay put and this is the only time they can answer strangers. Usually we will know the code word to let them know we were sent by their parents but they need to know it is OK to talk to strangers when lost. They also should have a good whistle and not be afraid to use it.

KR
 
This would be great for a child... or anyone else who likes outdoors!

http://www.cloudberrymarket.com/servlet/the-188/puukko%2C-finnish-knife%2C-finland/Detail

While I think that ferrocerium rods are nifty toys, I cannot stress enough that a Bic lighter trumps most other means. I could never figure out why "Rambo" types insist on packing matches or other firestarters. In the same space and weight that is taken up by a half dozen water-resistant matches, you could have a mini-Bic lighter. It's really the question between starting 6 fires or 600. I am well versed in starting fires with nothing but spark and natural tinders, and I must say that it is NOT easy. Definitely nothing I'd want to trust a child's life to. When it comes to kids, KEEP IT SIMPLE.
 
I am well versed in starting fires with nothing but spark and natural tinders, and I must say that it is NOT easy. Definitely nothing I'd want to trust a child's life to. When it comes to kids, KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Amen, an experienced adult with a fero-rod and good tinder, is one thing,
a scared kid is another. Also remember, depending on age, kids will even need to be taught how to flick their Bic, and more importantly, how to select tinder and kindling and build a solid fire.
Kids need a lot practice at their skills, they don't have the reinforced memory of a 30 or 40 year adult.

Things that we take for granted , a child must be taught and reinforced.
 
My son carries one, and has no trouble with it. Main reason is probably because it never leaves home without a decent supply of vaseline soaked dryer lint.:D (izzat cheatin'?)

I spent six hours working with him and it when he first got it, and we got maybe two or three natural fires going in that time span, but we both continue to practice and improve. (I darn skippy aint no fire God myself):eek:

while a decent lighter is probably better overall for the kids I think I'd put more emphasis on having some trioxane, PJ cottonballs, etc.

the Swedish firestarters are still a nice back up irregardless though, and my son finds it to be "neater" and more enjoyable, therefore it helps nurture his desire for learning about the outdoors.

Great thread guys. Very enjoyable and informative for me (and the boy beside me)
 
I agree that this is a GREAT thread. Interestingly, just last Friday my four-year-old son suggested making "survival kits" for himself and his siblings (ages 6 years, 2 years, and 6 months). Part of it is that he'd seen me make a rather involved kit for my dad, as a Christmas present.

I ended up agreeing (though the 6-monther doesn't get his own kit yet.) Part of it is simply that I knew the kids would love it--and the other, more serious part is that I knew they'd feel motivated to carry their kits whenever they go outdoors. Part of this is the fact that teaching them this stuff is one of the main ways they and I enjoy spending time together on my days off. Another is that I can keep adding things to each kid's kit as they get older and more capable.

Thus far the kits are pretty minimal--little fanny-packs, festooned with blaze orange duct tape, with whistles, bright bandanas, and blaze orange knit caps. One note about the whistles: I recommend that you have the kid in question actually test out the whistle you propose for them to use. My two-year-old can't manage more than a feeble "pfft" out of a Fox 40 Micro, much less a useful "TWEET". I plan to see if a Storm whistle will do the trick. Obviously, I have no intention of letting her get out of sight--but I want to prepare against that possibility. I'm drilling all of them in the "stay put and whistle" procedure.

The 6- and 4-year-old I'm teaching more advanced stuff, though they're not yet to the point where I'd want to rely on their ability to use it. I've had them help me gather sticks for fire-building, and each of them has started family cooking fires with a metal match. I've got to weigh, in this, the chances that such skills may be misused--and, at this point, both knives and firemaking implements are staying out of their kits; in our dry Arizona, I'm worried they'd incinerate a whole county if they built a fire before really learning the ropes. Some of it will depend on the individual child: my 6-year-old is cautious to a fault, while I have the feeling that the 4-year-old would stand on the car hood at 65 miles per hour, collecting bugs on his teeth with a wide smile, if given the opportunity. The 6-year-old may thus get the opportunity to use firemaking stuff sooner. I've already had them help build lean-to shelters (their clubhouse in the backyard is a lean-to we built a couple of weeks ago), and I'm constantly encouraging them to notice constellations for navigation, where the water-birds are flying, and things like that. When I cut myself with a saw last summer, I involved the 6-year-old in the first aid procedure, explaining to him that there was no cause for panic, and walking him through each step as I cleaned and dressed the lacerations.

More ideas, anyone? Keep 'em coming!
 
I agree that this is a GREAT thread. Interestingly, just last Friday my four-year-old son suggested making "survival kits" for himself and his siblings (ages 6 years, 2 years, and 6 months). Part of it is that he'd seen me make a rather involved kit for my dad, as a Christmas present.

I ended up agreeing (though the 6-monther doesn't get his own kit yet.) Part of it is simply that I knew the kids would love it--and the other, more serious part is that I knew they'd feel motivated to carry their kits whenever they go outdoors. Part of this is the fact that teaching them this stuff is one of the main ways they and I enjoy spending time together on my days off. Another is that I can keep adding things to each kid's kit as they get older and more capable.

Thus far the kits are pretty minimal--little fanny-packs, festooned with blaze orange duct tape, with whistles, bright bandanas, and blaze orange knit caps. One note about the whistles: I recommend that you have the kid in question actually test out the whistle you propose for them to use. My two-year-old can't manage more than a feeble "pfft" out of a Fox 40 Micro, much less a useful "TWEET". I plan to see if a Storm whistle will do the trick. Obviously, I have no intention of letting her get out of sight--but I want to prepare against that possibility. I'm drilling all of them in the "stay put and whistle" procedure.

The 6- and 4-year-old I'm teaching more advanced stuff, though they're not yet to the point where I'd want to rely on their ability to use it. I've had them help me gather sticks for fire-building, and each of them has started family cooking fires with a metal match. I've got to weigh, in this, the chances that such skills may be misused--and, at this point, both knives and firemaking implements are staying out of their kits; in our dry Arizona, I'm worried they'd incinerate a whole county if they built a fire before really learning the ropes. Some of it will depend on the individual child: my 6-year-old is cautious to a fault, while I have the feeling that the 4-year-old would stand on the car hood at 65 miles per hour, collecting bugs on his teeth with a wide smile, if given the opportunity. The 6-year-old may thus get the opportunity to use firemaking stuff sooner. I've already had them help build lean-to shelters (their clubhouse in the backyard is a lean-to we built a couple of weeks ago), and I'm constantly encouraging them to notice constellations for navigation, where the water-birds are flying, and things like that. When I cut myself with a saw last summer, I involved the 6-year-old in the first aid procedure, explaining to him that there was no cause for panic, and walking him through each step as I cleaned and dressed the lacerations.

More ideas, anyone? Keep 'em coming!

I noticed the same thing about the whistles. I'm going to have to do some experimenting with the kids once this headache is gone. They have good supply of the ones that I got from Wal-Mart and they have no trouble blowing them really loud and running me out of the house with them but they do have some trouble getting much noise out of the Fox 40 Mini's that "Santa" got them for Christmas. Maybe the best is not always the best choice in all situations.
 
perhaps a KSK (kid's SK) should also include a dumbed-down (and laminated?) version of m4040's Survival Primer (by dumbed down, I mean remove the references to death, and explain in more basic ways how to do X Y and Z).
 
Please don't forget the trash bags! They make easy-to-use shelters and can prevent a fatality in cold or rain. In my experience, if you hand a kid a whistle you will soon learn how loud it is ... over and over and over.

For young kids keep the kit as small & light as possible so they'll carry it with them. If they are dressed for the weather (for a night's stay) and have 2-3 bright trash bags, a loud whistle, a bright bandanna, and pocket LED light then they have the basics. Its always a great idea for them to carry a water bottle - the ones with shoulder straps work well for kids. If they are mature enough then you could add a signal mirror, a fixed or locking blade knife, and a fire-starting kit (tinder & lighter). At that age you can start to have fun by gearing them up and teaching them.

Kids don't need a survival primer. Younger kids don't need to make fire (unless they're old enough to manage it). They need to stay put, stay warm & dry, and be as "findable" as possible.

You'll be looking for them very quickly, so they shouldn't need to be finding water or food. The better they're taught to stop and stay put the faster they'll get found. They're not like hikers who aren't missed for days or longer.
 
It should be repeatedly taught to children especially to stay put and this is the only time they can answer strangers. Usually we will know the code word to let them know we were sent by their parents but they need to know it is OK to talk to strangers when lost. They also should have a good whistle and not be afraid to use it.

KR

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I never heard or thought of that kind of code-word for my kids to recognize legitimate rescuers/friends of the family. Thank you for posting that.

Presently, our kids are too young to be allowed out of eyesight, or hearing. It's our job keep track of them. To be honest, I have to remind them to put their dang mittens on before they go outside to play :) But I believe they do understand to sit still and wait for help if lost, and I damn well know they can attract attention with their flashlights and whistles.
 
Kids don't need a survival primer. Younger kids don't need to make fire (unless they're old enough to manage it). They need to stay put, stay warm & dry, and be as "findable" as possible.

You'll be looking for them very quickly, so they shouldn't need to be finding water or food. The better they're taught to stop and stay put the faster they'll get found. They're not like hikers who aren't missed for days or longer.

They do need a primer absolutely.

Sometimes kids arent found for days so maybe water at least is a good thing to know. Even the best trained kid will wander after some time, expanding the search area exponetially.

My point is never assume because they are kids they wont go far and even do what they have been told.

Finding dead 7 yr olds who travelled 10 kms through dense bush over 3 days is tragic. Never assume.

Skam
 
Just another vote for a kid's size whistle. I had one attached to my belt with a metal ring by my father when I was about 6 or 7. Carried that belt with whistle attached everywhere I went while we were in true wilderness...around town would have been fine too.

Another thing that I think has a great deal of value is a small LED light. They last forever, and are bright enough to help keep the "scary tree monsters away". These days, small microlights weigh grams and are cheap too.

A third thing to consider is some practice. I spent time with my father in the middle of the night, in the dark, with no lights on to just "listen" to the sounds of the forest. The trees creak, the frogs make noise, branches break, wind whistles the grass, water laps at the shoreline, mosquitos buzz madly.....this is freaky to most adults and little children are that much more affected.

My suggestion that you may find valuable is to let your child experience these sounds (with the safety of mom or dad present ) and tell them that those noises are just the "forest or Mother Nature letting you know that it's watching out for you....and that it will be okay".

Great thread,

D
 
I didnt read all of the posts but 12 hour light sticks would be a big plus, if the kid is out after dark, it might be some comfort to them.....maybe some hard candy
 
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