The Survival Mom » Kids http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:09:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Smart Survival Strategies for Kids: Forbidden Items at School http://thesurvivalmom.com/finding-forbidden-item-in-school/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=finding-forbidden-item-in-school http://thesurvivalmom.com/finding-forbidden-item-in-school/#comments Sun, 24 Aug 2014 20:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=14349 It may not be every parent’s very worst nightmare, but it certainly ranks up there if your kids are in public school. What if your kid has a forbidden item in school? It could be an accident, or something they Read More

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what to do if your kid forgets and takes a forbidden item in school

If your kid forgot a pocketknife and accidentally took it to school, what would they do?

It may not be every parent’s very worst nightmare, but it certainly ranks up there if your kids are in public school. What if your kid has a forbidden item in school? It could be an accident, or something they found that wasn’t originally theirs, especially for older kids who find something in their car or truck.

What should they do if they reach in a pocket and realize that a shell casing (garbage, to anyone who knows anything about firearms) is still there from their last hunting trip? What if, God forbid, they have a pocket knife in their backpack after a camping trip?

Medical and First Aid Supplies

One of the more popular articles on the blog recently was this one, Backpack First Aid Kit for Kids. The author listed a number of tiny, handy items that could all be contained in a small plastic container. When this was posted on The Survival Mom Facebook page, the results were shocking:

In schools around here, this would get the kid an out of school suspension. Over the counter medication of any kind has to be accompanied by a doctor’s note etc.”

Can’t do this any more. It would be taken from your child and you would go to jail for pushing drugs. We have become a stupid society.

You might be able to sneak a Band-Aid into the backpack, but nothing else. Our school district here in north Texas wouldn’t allow any of that stuff.

“It’s a great idea but it would be taken from my girls first thing. Our school doesn’t even allow the kids to bring in cough drops.

Harmless items, such as eye drops and Neosporin, may be considered illegal contraband in public schools these days, apparently! So what if your child does have one of these in a pocket, purse, or backpack, innocently and unintentionally? I’ve been known to tuck a couple of ibuprofen in a pocket, just in case.

The news is full of incidents in which kids have been suspended or expelled just for something this simple.

How should they handle this?

So, what would be a smart strategy if this happens with one of your kids?

One high school kid realized that he had left a pocket knife in his pocket after a Scout camping trip. The panicked kid faked sickness and went to the nurse saying he had to go home. His mom picked him up and took him home early and the problem was solved.

In another incident, a high school student grabbed what he thought was a can of soda on his way out the door. When he got to school, he realized it was beer and immediately turned it over to his teacher. The teacher turned him in to the principal, and the boy was suspended for 3 days and had to attend an “alternative” school for 3 months. His mother claimed he was just being honest and was punished in return.

If your child finds himself or herself in a situation like this, what would you advise them to do? Do they know how to handle it?

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7 Summer Children’s Activities for Sowing Survivalist Seeds http://thesurvivalmom.com/childrens-summer-activities-survivalist-seeds/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=childrens-summer-activities-survivalist-seeds http://thesurvivalmom.com/childrens-summer-activities-survivalist-seeds/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:00:03 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16733 Summer activities can be a fun and creative way to introduce your children to basic survivalist concepts. Ways to pass the lazy summer days has changed a great deal over the last decade or so. What used to be typical Read More

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7 Summer ActivitiesSummer activities can be a fun and creative way to introduce your children to basic survivalist concepts. Ways to pass the lazy summer days has changed a great deal over the last decade or so. What used to be typical summer past times has now become occasional treats for today’s youth. Help introduce your little ones to general survival skills while reintroducing your summertime to do list favorites!

1 | Building Forts

A childhood favorite both indoors and out is building forts. Whether it be a table and blanket fort inside or a more complex structure in the backyard, allowing children to use their creativity to build these small getaways can help teach them early on about what works and what does not.

Very few of us will ever become an award winning architect or cutting edge engineer, but the trial and error process of building those wobbly but fun hideaways with friends can aid in constructing a more serious shelter later.

2 | Swimming

Swimming or splashing around in cool, refreshing water is a summer favorite on those hot, humid (or arid) days. Learning how to swim and water safety is something every child should experience early on. What seems like water fun can really be a subliminal survivalist skill that could save his or her life later on.

3 | Fishing

As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Spend those lazy summer evenings on a riverbank with your little one and teach them the ins and outs of fishing. Be sure to teach them how to properly set up their pole and bait the hook. Kids typically think of nonstop casting and reeling when it comes time to fish, but teach them the basics and patience so if the occasion ever calls for it, they can catch their own dinner!

4 | Outdoor Sports

In the midst of an electronic age, it is important for children (and the rest of us) to get unplugged and outside. Putting down the PSP, DS, tablet, etc., and getting active outside helps children become more resilient to natural environmental conditions such as prolonged sun exposure and lack of a constant stimulant. In other words, kids are forced to entertain themselves in the summer heat.

This may sound like a no-brainer but when kids spend most of their time inactively indoors playing video games or watching television in climate controlled conditions, making the transition to moving about in the humidity of summer can be tough. Encourage your children to play outside to build stamina so if an occasion occurs where moving about outside is necessary, they will be conditioned and ready.

Some active outdoor summer favorites include baseball/whiffle ball, basketball, flag football, tag, catch, jumping on trampolines, jumping rope, mastering the hula hoop, hopscotch and kickball.

5 | Hiking

Pack a bag, grab a walking stick and hit the trail! Hiking can certainly help condition the body for long hours outside and help teach little ones forest safety. Many state parks have hiking trails for all levels so if you are new to hiking, talk with a park ranger or other official about which trails are best for beginners.

Some state parks and campgrounds may even offer guided hikes which generally include basic lessons on the area’s wildlife, plant life and environment. Be sure your children know what plants are dangerous to touch and eat and how to respond to wild animal encounters. What is a fun day in the woods now can be a ticket for survival later.

6 | Target Shooting

Water guns are a summertime blast. Children giggle and scream as they run barefoot around the yard trying to blast their siblings and friends with that ice cold stream of water. What they generally do not realize is that they are building their hand-eye coordination as they practice zoning in on their targets. Another target shooting favorite is shooting aluminum cans with bb guns.

Try setting cans up in different formations and teach your kids how to use the basic sight feature that is standard on most bb guns. If your child decides to take up hunting for sport or necessity later, he or she will have a comfortable edge hitting their target.

7 | Campfire Fun

Summertime campfires are a must for childhood nostalgia! Roasting hotdogs on a stick, making ooey, gooey s’mores, and sharing ghost stories are childhood campfire traditions for a reason! Teach your children how to make a campfire, introduce them to primitive cooking over the fire, and then how to properly and safely extinguish a fire.

Get unplugged and outdoors!

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Subway Safety with Kids http://thesurvivalmom.com/subway-safety-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=subway-safety-kids http://thesurvivalmom.com/subway-safety-kids/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:48:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16763 Living in a big city, I have learned to rely on public transportation. Parking spots are limited and often too narrow to fit my big jeep in. Not to mention the crazy, fast paced, and often mentally exhausting traffic here Read More

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Subway_Safety_WKidsLiving in a big city, I have learned to rely on public transportation. Parking spots are limited and often too narrow to fit my big jeep in. Not to mention the crazy, fast paced, and often mentally exhausting traffic here in Seoul, South Korea.

It is easier and more cost effective to just walk a few blocks to the subway station. Besides, my kids love to ride the subway.

After the first few trips on the subway with my children, and playing out the “What If?” scenarios in my mind, I compiled a few tips to aid in safely traveling with kids on the subway.

Preparing for the Trip

Since both my children are younger, they each wear a lanyard with an I.D. holder on it. I place a card with my name and phone number on it, as well as an alternate emergency point of contact.

When we travel, I also include our hotel name and phone number. If something happens, they don’t have to struggle to remember phone numbers. It also gives them a place to put their subway card.

Entering the Subway Station

Subway stations can be very busy places at times, crowded, and face paced. There are many moving components: automatic doors, escalators, elevators, turnstiles, and moving sidewalks.

Take your time. Don’t get caught up in the rush. Remind the kids to take their time on steps, through the turnstiles, and to be clear of the subway door. In the subway car, I always try to have the kids find a seat. If there are none, be sure they always hang onto a safety rail. Sometimes the trains can have rough starts and stops. It is easy to lose your balance.

Learn the emergency signs together. There are many different signs in the station. Regular signs point you to the bathroom, the platform, transfers to other trains, information kiosks, and standard exits. Then there are the emergency ones: exits, phones, first aid, flash lights, fire extinguishers, and gas masks. I make a game out of it by randomly quizzing them on finding a certain sign, for instance an emergency exit.

I also point out the Information kiosks and station attendants who have special uniforms. In an emergency, the kids know they can ask the attendants for help.

Knowing the Route

Another game we play is knowing our starting and ending points: what station we begin our adventure on and our destination. We also count the stops on the way and discuss what subway line we are on. Here, the lines are distinguished by color and numbers.

By looking at the map, they can tell me how many stops there are before we transfer to next line, and how many total stops to our destination. Both of my children’s navigating skills have amazed me. Sometimes they even beat me to the punch and know how many stops before our station.

Which leads me to our “What happens if we get separated?” plan. If the subway car is crowded or a door closes too fast and we get separated, what do you do? (I have had happen this happen in a Korean elevator, but that is a whole other story for another time.)

If anyone gets stuck on the train, they are supposed to get off at the next stop, take a seat at the first bench they come to on the platform, and wait. If anyone is left at the station, they take a seat on the platform and wait. Either way, someone will be right there to get them.

Other Useful Tidbits

Most subways have a discount child fare, as well as a special gate for stroller friendly access. Some even offer special seating in the subway car.

Some subway systems have cell phone applications for maps. You put in your starting point and destination. From there, it will give you arrival times, stops, and transfers.

Here in Seoul, most subway stations are also fallout shelters equipped with emergency supplies, including gas masks.

No matter where in the world you are, or what subway system you are using, be sure to look up their website for more local tips on traveling and safety. The subway is an easy, fun way to take an adventure in the big city with kids.

Helping them to be prepared in case of an emergency will give you all a peaceful mind.

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Training Kids To Be Resilient http://thesurvivalmom.com/training-kids-resilient/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=training-kids-resilient http://thesurvivalmom.com/training-kids-resilient/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15919 Many are familiar with The Stockdale Paradox. This concept, coined by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, came to be during a fantastic interview with the late Vice Admiral James Stockdale. For those who do not know the Read More

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training kids resilientMany are familiar with The Stockdale Paradox. This concept, coined by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, came to be during a fantastic interview with the late Vice Admiral James Stockdale.

For those who do not know the story, Admiral Stockdale was a Prisoner of War for more than seven years in Vietnam, and became known for his resiliency and leadership.

Admiral Stockdale stated:

“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.” 

When asked who did not make it in Vietnam, Admiral Stockdale answered,

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Lastly, he asserted,

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Though the lesson of The Stockdale Paradox is timeless and invaluable, the story is a bit intense to be explained to my four-year-old. Below are three simple methods I often use to convey this valuable lesson.

Develop Narratives From Personal Experience

Early in my military career, I made the choice to enter a difficult training program. The washout rate was high and my confidence level was low. By focusing on my goal of graduating, throughout multiple small failures, I was able to make it and do more than I originally believed possible.

Use Sports Analogies

Modern sports present numerous examples of underdogs who held on to overcome adversity. Doug Flutie was too small to play quarterback. Herschel Walker was too heavy and slow to even become an athlete. These stories are prevalent, and children can relate to them.

Use Archetypal Stories

These are perhaps the most fun. Shrek experienced a difficult journey. So did Nemo and Dusty Crophopper the crop duster. With each example, children can understand how the characters may have felt.

In a culture flooded with information, the valuable lessons of faith and discipline are constantly available for presentation. Those who enjoy the stories can witness how the characters chose their focus. Children love narratives of this nature, and their parents have the opportunity to emphasize simple, positive concepts. As children mature, stories that once seemed fun and entertaining often become more meaningful, given a little life experience.

 

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Backpack First Aid Kit for Kids — A Must-Have! http://thesurvivalmom.com/first-aid-kit-for-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=first-aid-kit-for-kids http://thesurvivalmom.com/first-aid-kit-for-kids/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:00:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16316 You might carry a complete EMT kit in your purse, but it’s only useful if your kids are with you when they’re hurt.  If they go to school, spend the night with friends, or attend sports practices without you, they Read More

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first aid kit for kidsYou might carry a complete EMT kit in your purse, but it’s only useful if your kids are with you when they’re hurt.  If they go to school, spend the night with friends, or attend sports practices without you, they need their own Everyday Carry first aid kit for kids.  The trick is to make it useful and compact enough to keep all the time without breaking their backs—or the bank.

Start with $1

The carry case in the photo came from the Dollar Tree, but I’ve bought similar versions in the travel-size section of Target and Wal-Mart.  Pick up a few. Trust me—once you build them, you’ll want one in the backpack, the bat bag, the sleepover bag, your purse, and several more to restock their contents.

This one came with alcohol swabs, gauze pads, and more than 30 bandages!  I pared it down to 6 bandages and added a giant knee-sized bandage and butterfly bandage from the stash in my medicine cabinet.  Now I can fit in other important stuff.

 $5 Add-ins

Neo-to-Go fits perfectly into this case. Break the seal and show your little guys how to use it.  I LOVE that even my seven-year-old can do it with no mess and no waste.

Eye Drops may require adult help for smaller kids, but at least it will be available. My optometrist sister likes Murine. (The tiny Systane packets take up less room, but they’re a bit pricey.)  My own kit has the re-wetting drops that came free with my contact solution. Bonus! Eye drops are perfect for flushing debris from eyes or squeezing to irrigate a dirty wound. (Gravelly bike wrecks, anyone?)

Advanced Options

Water Jel is a topical analgesic that eases the pain of burns and actually stops the burn from progressing.  You know how a steak continues to cook after it’s removed from the heat? Your skin does that, too.  But for under $15 you can get 25 little 1/8 oz. packets to divvy up among your first aid kits—even the larger ones you have floating around. We’ve used them for campfire mishaps, of course, but they’re also great for soothing sunburns. I have only been able to find this product inexpensively on Amazon.

NasalCease stops nosebleeds instantly! Again, practice with little ones ahead of time—particularly if they are prone to nosebleeds. The product is as flat as a bandage and fits nicely at the bottom of the case. I bought it for wrestling season.  The trainers use tampons to staunch nosebleeds for the big boys, but those just don’t work for tiny little nostrils.  Expect to pay about $10 for a box of 5.

first aid kit for kidsOver-the-counter medications also fit. I included a blister-pouch of (chewable) Benadryl in all but the backpack kit (so nobody gets in trouble at school). My kiddos are allergic to wasp stings, but not badly enough to warrant Epi-pens.  The sooner they get an antihistamine, the less severe the symptoms.  So when they’re stung at a sleepover and not sure how to explain things to the mom-in-charge, they’ll have what they need.

I wrote instructions on the top of the lid with Sharpie: STINGS—1 pink.  I did the same with generic Tylenol.  Many adults don’t carry kid-friendly doses, and I sure don’t want anyone unknowingly giving my kiddos aspirin! But the blister pouch has a label on the back to confirm the lid’s instructions: FEVER—2 purple

For Older Kids (and Moms!)

Tweezers (removing ticks and splinters) and a safety pin (relieving severe blood blisters) will fit, as well.

Pack ‘em Up!

Let the kids help fit everything in; they’ll know the location of every item and its use. They can even decorate with colored sharpies or stickers. Then, go crazy! At just over 3 ounces, you can stash one in every conceivable place–even the tackle box, the golf bag, and the camper. I’m sending one in each backpack for a healthy, self-reliant back-to-school.

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Try it Today! Preparedness Drills to Do with Your Kids http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-it-today-preparedness-drills-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=try-it-today-preparedness-drills-kids http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-it-today-preparedness-drills-kids/#comments Sun, 13 Jul 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16139 If your kids go to school, they have undoubtedly participated in a school fire drill. Most bus riders have gone through a bus evacuation drill out the back emergency door. Some schools are even conducting active shooter drills as preparedness Read More

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Preparedness Drills If your kids go to school, they have undoubtedly participated in a school fire drill. Most bus riders have gone through a bus evacuation drill out the back emergency door. Some schools are even conducting active shooter drills as preparedness drills.

But have you had a fire drill in your own home? Have you talked about how and when to exit your car after an accident? Do they know what to do in case there is a shooter at the mall?

Parents tend to TELL their kids what to do instead of SHOW them. We say that in case of fire, we will meet at the big oak tree across the street. What we don’t often do is show them how to actually get to that oak tree. We TELL our kids, “Don’t get in a car with strangers,” but we don’t SHOW them how to fight back if someone grabs them.

As children get old enough to be home or out in public on their own, these drills become even more important because they will not have you to give instructions in an emergency. We need to prepare them, using active drills, to protect and potentially save their own lives.

FIRE!

It’s early in the morning. The kids are still asleep and the sun is just starting to rise. I’ve woken to use the restroom but decide, since I’m up, it’s a great time for a drill. I poke the test button for the smoke detector, go into my daughter’s bedroom and yell, “FIRE DRILL! FIRE DRILL! FIRE DRILL!” She realizes what is happening and rolls out of bed. She hurries to the door and places her hand on it. “The door is hot!” I shout. She turns to the window, unlatches and opens it, removes the screen and crawls out the window.

I then proceed to my son’s room. He feels the door for for heat. “The door is not hot!” He grabs a shirt to cover his mouth, opens the door, and begins to low crawl down the hallway. He makes it all the way to the front door, unlocks it, and goes outside to our meeting point across the street where his sister is already waiting.

After the drill, we talk about the possibility of going to a neighbor to call 911 and what, if anything, they could have done differently.

Sometimes during a drill I throw a curve ball. “The windows are stuck! You can’t get them open!” We then talk about it being okay to use a chair to break the window and place a blanket over the window sill to prevent cuts from broken glass. I have them pick up a chair and practice swing it so they get an idea of how heavy it is and the kind of force they would need to use. Another test: “The cat is meowing in the hallway!” As much as we love them, their job is NOT to go after the pets.

The first time we ran through this drill, I learned that not only did my daughter not know how to work the window locks, but that her skinny arms weren’t strong enough to actually open the window. She ended up practicing opening the window every few days until she figured out a way to leverage her body weight and get them open.

If you live in a two story home, you should have a fire ladder. (You do have one in each upstairs bedroom, right?) But have you actually ever used it? Don’t just have it sitting in the box hoping you’ll never need it. You do not want your child to try to figure out how to use it with a fire burning outside the door. 

Some fire ladders are single use for emergencies only while others are multi-use and can actually be used in a full drill to climb out your window. Even with a single use ladder, you can show your children how to attach it to a window sill, what steps to take to deploy it, and tips for climbing out the window to safety. With a multi-use ladder, practicing  climbing to the ground will reduce the level of fear of the ladder itself during a true emergency. 

Children, young ones especially, need to be reminded that firefighters may look scary with all their gear on. Show them what a firefighter looks like and teach them that there is no such thing as a “stranger” when it comes to someone helping them out of a fire or other disaster. They should go with anyone who is there to rescue them.

Don’t just show your kids the multiple ways to get out of the house if it is on fire. Also show them all the ways your home is protected to prevent fire. Show them the smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and explain how they work. Teach them of the importance of not leaving the kitchen when something is cooking on the stove top and to unplug curling irons and toasters. Remind kids that matches, lighters, and candles are not toys and shouldn’t be used except with permission from an adult, while also teaching how to properly use and extinguish them.

TORNADO / EARTHQUAKE / NATURAL DISASTER

These drills follow the same line of thinking as the fire drill. Even if your area isn’t prone to these types of disasters, teaching your children how to respond to them is still a good idea. Show them some short videos on tornado and storm safety, teach them safe earthquake response, and then later start a drill when they aren’t expecting it.

STRANGER DANGER

“Don’t get in a car with strangers.” It’s good advice, but does your child know how to fight off a larger adult who has grabbed them? You’ve probably also taught your children not to hit or kick or bite. But does that include against strangers who are trying to abduct them? Be sure your children understand that any level of violence from them is acceptable when fighting off someone who is trying to hurt them. Find a self defense for kids class in your town so they can not only learn practical ways to fight back, but they can also practice hitting and kicking. Believe it or not, most people, adults included, don’t know how to effectively hit another person in their own defense.

CAR ACCIDENT

I was in a fairly serious car accident a few years ago. No one was badly hurt but three cars were smashed up, and fortunately my children were not in the car with me. In the immediate moments after the crash I sat their dumbfounded and needed to be given instructions to get out of the car. I learned that I needed to discuss this with the kids.

If we are in an accident, what should you do? If the driver or another adult is able to give instruction, kids are to comply. But what if the adult is unconscious or otherwise unable to help? If you are able, undo seat belts and get yourself and your siblings out of the car together. WATCH FOR OTHER CARS when leaving the vehicle. If someone is very injured, leave them in place and get help. If they learn nothing else, the two rules for a car accident are: if you’re able to leave the vehicle, do so… and watch out for other cars.

ACTIVE SHOOTER 

This is the hardest one for a lot of families. We worry about scaring our children. We don’t want to even think about our children being in an active shooter situation. But teaching your kids what gunfire sounds like, the difference between hiding and taking cover, and what to do if they find themselves in this situation could mean the difference between life and death.

The run-hide-barricade-attack training response is good for older children in school who will potentially have the ability to make their own decisions in an active shooter scenario. It is also good information for all children who find themselves at other public places (like malls, sporting events, restaurants, etc) when a shooter arrives.

Sometimes when we are in a store or restaurant, I will ask my kids, “If you heard gunshots right now, what would you do?” Depending on their answers and the situation, I might ask additional questions to get them thinking about a plan. For yourself, or for older children, consider this short video training for active shooter response.

HOME INVADER

What’s one of the cardinal rules when we leave children at home on their own? Don’t open the door to strangers! Have you told your children what to do if a stranger comes in anyway? As soon as someone starts to force their way into the house, your children should leave out another door, preferably on the other side of the home and then go to a trusted neighbor for help. If they cannot leave the house for some reason, grabbing a phone and hiding while calling 911 is the best response. Again, don’t just talk about what to do. Actually practice running out an alternate door and going room to room to identify good hiding places.

CPR AND FIRST AID

My children have been very fortunate to be able to participate in “Be Ready Camp” sponsored by the State of Alabama. One of the most important things they learned was basic first aid. They were taught with a hands on approach how to stop bleeding, splint a broken bone, and more.

Children can also learn CPR and use it effectively. If you can’t find a local class that will teach children, talk to your child’s school about teaching a course to students or purchase a kit to bring home to teach your kids yourself.

SOCIAL PREPAREDNESS

This is a new one for my family. While I had given the “Say no to drugs” and “Don’t get into a car with someone who has been drinking” lectures, we hadn’t had real, applicable discussions about these situations. I read an article recently that talked about this very thing and it was a light bulb moment for me. We can’t just TELL our kids not to drink, but instead we must help them find the words to use when the situation happens. Kids often want to say no, but they just don’t know how. I won’t rehash the whole article, but go read it. Failing to know what to do in these social situations can lead to a personal or family disaster just as devastating as any of the other incidents mentioned here.

Children are capable of handling more information at an earlier age than many parents give them credit for. We’ve all heard of the stories where a very young child calls 911, or a child who has been taught survival techniques is able to save their own life. You know your child better than anyone else. Keep the lessons and skills age appropriate.

The idea is not to scare your children or have their thoughts constantly filled with “what ifs.” The discussions and drills I have with my family my seem extreme to some, but it works for us and my kids are well-adjusted, prepared individuals. Decide how much preparedness you want to teach your own kids and begin to drill them. Without the drill, the information might be lost in time. Every skill you give them is one that might save their lives.

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OpSec lessons from a military wife (and brat) http://thesurvivalmom.com/opsec-lessons-military-wife-brat/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=opsec-lessons-military-wife-brat http://thesurvivalmom.com/opsec-lessons-military-wife-brat/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:38 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15822 It only takes putting a few pieces of a puzzle together to start seeing a clear picture. Lessons learned from Wartime I was 10 and living overseas on a military base when the Gulf War happened. Suddenly, OpSec (Operational Security) Read More

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opsec with text It only takes putting a few pieces of a puzzle together to start seeing a clear picture.

Lessons learned from Wartime

I was 10 and living overseas on a military base when the Gulf War happened. Suddenly, OpSec (Operational Security) became the name of the game and more important than ever.

All the building signs that could be seen from outside the fence were covered in black garbage bags. I was just a child, and I pictured the enemy on top of nearby buildings with binoculars watching our every move and trying to gather information on the activity on the base.

All of this gave me an early lesson on the importance of information, and the lessons continued as my father and husband both served during the current conflicts.

Lessons I have Learned

1. Social media is not secure

As a military wife, information became more important for me to keep secure. Social media is not secure and if I were to announce that my husband was going on a work trip and where he was going, that piece of information could be found and become another puzzle piece for the enemy. Privacy settings should be checked often to make sure they are the most secure. Avoid advertising where you are by checking in places on Twitter and Facebook, which also advertises where you are not (at home).

2. Photos give a lot away

Digital photos often have date stamps on them, but if you take them with a smartphone, they can also have location stamps on them. A seemingly innocent family photo on your front porch can let people know where you live and how many people are in your family. You can go into your phone’s setting and disable the location stamp function. Then if you do post a photo to social media, make sure your settings are as secure as they can be.

3. Beware of eavesdroppers

Watch where you are when you talk as well. I knew military wives that were comfortable talking to other military wives no matter where they were, but restaurants and malls can be full of people who don’t need to know details that military wives know. Be aware of where you are when you talk with your friends about your preps.

4. View through a stranger’s eyes

What information do you give out on your vehicles and house? Does your bumper sticker show how many children and pets you have and where you child goes to school or plays soccer? What would someone know about your family by looking through your trash? Remove, and possibly shred, items that give out information you would rather people not have. Then decide what kind of information you do want to present to a stranger. Large size men’s boots (visible on the porch or in your vehicle), a home security sign, a Marine Corps flag, and an NRA sticker might convey a more powerful message to people driving by than just having potted flowers.

5. Have a family code word

There should be a family code word that someone would have to use to pick up your child from an activity if you can’t make it so the child knows that you sent that person.

6. Parents need code, too

Adults should also have code words or signals for situations that may arise. This can be a helpful way for parents to talk about a situation without alarming the children.

7. What is your story?

I’ve learned that you do not need to lie to keep information secure, but you don’t have to tell all the facts. Be general instead of specific in answers to questions – but make sure your family is on the same page. When a store clerk asks why you are buying 10 pounds of rice, it doesn’t help if you say, “We’re having a party,” at the same time your daughter says, “We try to only go grocery shopping once a month.” Answers should have at least some truth to them to also make them easier to sell.

8. Children need reasons

You can’t expect to ask your children to not show their friends the basement and then not have them ask you, “Why can’t they know about it?” You will need to take the time to explain to you children why you are asking them to keep some information private.

It’s important to tell them what they can say – “We like to be prepared for emergencies” – and explain to them that it is a family’s private business how much and what food and supplies they have on hand. You can explain to them that just as we close the blinds when we leave the house so people don’t see the TV and want to break in and steal it, we don’t want to advertise all our supplies to people or they may want to come take those for themselves.

9. Don’t drive yourself crazy

Amidst all this, find someone you can talk to. Make sure your children know whom they can safely talk to. Not talking to anyone about anything about your family could start to drive you crazy. There are like-minded people out there and there is no reason to live your life paranoid about every little detail.

There is a balance to be found between being secretive and being open. We should find ways to encourage our friends and family to be more self-sufficient, but we can be careful about how we do it. What other OpSec lessons would you add to the list?

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Summer Camp Prep http://thesurvivalmom.com/summer-camp-prep/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=summer-camp-prep http://thesurvivalmom.com/summer-camp-prep/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:00:22 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16110 It’s summertime, and summertime means – summer camp for the kids! But how can we really be prepared, or make sure our kids are prepared without us, at summer camp? Sometimes, camp is hours from home by car, days if Read More

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Summer Camp Prep

It’s summertime, and summertime means – summer camp for the kids!

But how can we really be prepared, or make sure our kids are prepared without us, at summer camp? Sometimes, camp is hours from home by car, days if they had to walk home. And disasters can happen at camp, even day camp.

A few years ago, something called a “derecho” came through Virginia. (A real weather event – just one no one had ever heard of before that day.) One man I know was at Scout camp when that happened. He described seeing a huge tree fall exactly where he and two boys had stood less than five minutes earlier.

Twice, now, I have sprained my ankle at Scout camps. As a kid, I remember literally hopping around to keep weight off my injured ankle. As an adult, I was most chagrined to realize that I didn’t have a bandage in my car emergency bag and the camp didn’t have one either. My husband had to bring one from home! And that’s not even getting into true back-country camping or more adventurous activities.

So, what’s a preparedness minded mom to do? Summer camp prep!

Oversee Packing

I have boys, so I don’t have first-hand parental knowledge of how girls would do, but I know my boys would not be practical or thorough in their packing. The older one goes to sleep-away camp with Scouts, and that’s the main sleep-away camp that most kids I know go to. Boy Scout camp sends a list of what to pack, but following the list and really packing properly without help…. Well, they’re kids.

When an adult, especially a mom, sees “sunscreen” or “bug repellant” on the packing list, they automatically understand that means enough for the entire trip and that the bug repellant should be for bugs expected at that location. In other words, if you are going somewhere with lots of ticks, be sure it’s not just mosquito repellant. And while light-weight is always better to carry than heavy, an extra-light bottle of sunscreen is probably almost empty and not the best choice.

However much you help with gathering things and getting ready, make sure your kids actually do the packing. Having them physically handle things and put them in their bag is the best chance you have of making sure they remember what they have with them and where it is.

Do Some Projects in Advance

You can save money, spend time together, and get better quality in the process.

We use bug spray with DEET sometimes – Lyme Disease is no joke – but I’m not comfortable with using it often. My kids and I just made a home-made tick and bug spray that involves essential oils and vinegar (but isn’t supposed to smell vinegary.) Homemade sit-upons and bug balm are good projects too.

My boys have also made their own First Aid kits. Unlike store-bought kits, these address problems they might really encounter. The older one is more likely to take longer hikes with not-always-slim leaders. His kit contains both cayenne pepper (for heart attacks) and an oral rehydration solution. They both have vet wrap to use for sprains and they know how to use it.

Finally, assuming they have an electronic device with a Kindle or other e-reader app, make sure they have a few survival apps and books, including First Aid, weather, and map apps. Confirm all the apps are fully updated before they leave.

A Little Training Never Hurts

We review basic First Aid and disaster topics. They remember several ways to signal for help, basic First Aid, and who to ask for help. We also review how to care for their things, including basic cleaning and packing. (I really, really don’t want the nasty mud-caked boots coming home again – at least remove the caked on mud, kiddo!)

The First Aid kit isn’t much help if no one knows how to use anything other than the bandages. Some items may need instruction labels* and you may want to include a contents list with everything in the kit. Even if your child knows what everything is for, they may be the one needing help.

There are some things you can’t do much about. If there is an EMP and your child is 200 miles away at camp, they aren’t getting home quickly. But you can help your child be prepared for far more likely problems such as tornadoes, flooding, and other natural disasters.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine feel safer and more confident when they know they are well prepared, and I’m betting that will help them feel less homesick at camp. I know it will help me worry a little less!

* Some of our non-standard items include an ID lanyard as part of a sling (it should hold most of the weight of an arm), and having both size large and size small nitrile gloves. The gloves are in small, labeled bags. The kids wear size small, but many adults would need large to work on them.

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Summertime Survival Skills for Young Girls http://thesurvivalmom.com/summertime-survival-skills-young-girls/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=summertime-survival-skills-young-girls http://thesurvivalmom.com/summertime-survival-skills-young-girls/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 17:00:49 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=14645 The Opportunities “Can we have some nails?” my oldest asked me last weekend. “Why?” “We want to make some benches with the scrap wood.” It was an opportunity to teach them a new skill – hammering a nail. My husband Read More

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Summertime survival skills girlsThe Opportunities

“Can we have some nails?” my oldest asked me last weekend.

“Why?”

“We want to make some benches with the scrap wood.”

It was an opportunity to teach them a new skill – hammering a nail. My husband showed them how to do it, found enough hammers and let them loose with their project.

The preschooler quickly got frustrated with crooked nails. The oldest hit her finger with the hammer and cried a bit. But another one kept at it and created four wooden structures that afternoon.

“They’re too young …”

My children are young (8 and younger), but I am forcing myself to look at what they can do this summer instead of what they’re too young to do. I would like to keep them little forever, but they need to have skills to survive in this world. I realized my oldest hasn’t been taught to even use a hand can opener! I will be changing that this summer. I would hate to have them ill prepared if an emergency situation arose.

Summertime Survival Skills 101

They have taken swimming lessons and we have taught them our address and phone number, how to call 911 and how to recognize if someone is choking, but there is so much more to learn! I am putting together a list of things I can teach them this summer.

  • Using a can opener
  • Heating a can of soup
  • Making basic bread
  • Starting a fire (and putting it out!)
  • Basic first aid – bandages, treating bug bites, treating burns
  • Sewing – threading needle, basic stitch, button
  • Basic knife safety skills
  • Basic shooting skills
  • Wildlife recognition
  • Edible plants recognition

We will use all the resources available in our area – backyard fire pit, campgrounds, YouTube videos, rainy, boring days and classes offered by our local parks and recreation department.

This is the start of my list – what would you add?

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Turning Hysterics into Song: How to calm children in a crisis http://thesurvivalmom.com/calm-children-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=calm-children-crisis http://thesurvivalmom.com/calm-children-crisis/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=14647 Emergency situations can be difficult for anyone to face, but it can be especially hard for a child. It’s so important to know how to calm children in a crisis. Picture this situation: Fifteen children under the age of 10 Read More

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calm children in a crisis

From the Library of Congress’ Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive

Emergency situations can be difficult for anyone to face, but it can be especially hard for a child. It’s so important to know how to calm children in a crisis.

Picture this situation:

Fifteen children under the age of 10 and about 8 adults are crowded in a bathroom as a storm rages around the building. The children heard the word “tornado” and are scared. The crying and shaking start.

  • “Are we going to die?”
  • “What about Daddy?”
  • “Where is my friend?”

The adults try to get word out to friends and family that they have taken cover, but the children need attention and assurance, too. One adult suggests saying a prayer. And then one starts singing, “The wheels on the bus …”

And we sang and sang until the noise quieted and the storm passed by. Yes, I was one of the adults in that scenario, and I quickly realized the importance of calming children in a crisis.

Setting an example

Once we adults acted calmly, the children followed suit. Adults need to have self-control over their emotions during an emergency to provide support for the children. The focus should first be on the people with you in an emergency situation, not on trying to contact others. When you are able to get in touch with someone from the outside, ask them to pass on the information for you to others so you can continue to be there for the kids.

Think it through

Whether it is a tornado drill, hurricane evacuation, or even a car accident, thinking through all the different ways to keep children calm will help you be ready if the event ever occurs.

You may have the supply checklist completed, but once you have taken cover or bugged out, what is your plan? Who will you contact and how? How will you comfort those around you? Can you keep your emotions in check for the sake of others?

Here are some ideas:

  • Remind children they are in the safest place they can be right now and you will take care of them.
  • Go over what to do when the incident is over.
  • Have some distractions ready (songs, I Spy, memorization passages, riddles, jokes, children’s books, games, coloring books and crayons).
  • Have them tell you a story.
  • Keep comfort items in your shelter area, bug out bags, and cars (blankies, stuffed animals, toys, and even candy and something to drink).
  • Give children something to do, such as hand out the coloring books and crayons.
  • Answer their questions and encourage them to talk to you.
  • Let children help stock the shelter, bug out bag, and emergency car bag and make sure they know what is there.
  • Have practice drills.

What other ideas do you have to keep children calm during an emergency situation?

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