Everyday Carry for Kids

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Image: kids backpack with flashlight, tissues, shoesMany of us have long lists of EDC items that never leave our sides, but what about our kids? Would they be ready for an emergency at school or even a friend’s house?

Get this list with even more suggestions in a handy printable form.

Here are some ideas for your child’s EDC:

  • Whistle – If your child feels threatened by a stranger, a whistle will let other adults know that something isn’t right. Be sure to discuss with your child the difference between truly “threatening” and simply “unfamiliar” when it comes to strangers.
  • Small LED Flashlight – Of course a light is always important. They’ll be both prepared and comforted if the power goes out at school or at a sleepover. (This can also come in handy for late night games of flashlight tag!)
  • First Aid Kit – A few band-aids and a triangular bandage along with a small card describing basic first aid skills should be plenty.
  • Food – Something small like a pack of trail mix or a couple of granola bars. Whether your child forgot his lunch money or had to stay overnight at school due to extreme weather, a high-protein snack can be very handy.
  • Water Bottle or Pouch – Water is just as important if not more so than food. Even if they already carry a water bottle for lunch, give them a spare for emergencies. You can buy mylar water pouches on Amazon, and I really like those for packing in emergency kits.
  • Clothes – A change of socks and underwear along with a hat, gloves, and scarf could all be put in a vacuum sealed bag (using something like a Food Saver) and either left in your child’s locker or kept in his backpack.
  • Knife, Phone, and Keys – Depending on your child’s age (and whether or not they’re at school), these are all important items to carry. Use your discretion to know when they’re ready for these.

Not all of these will be easy for your child to carry everywhere, so be ready to adapt for different scenarios. Try putting everything but the knife in the backpack on school days. For playing in the neighborhood, they may just need the first three in their pockets. Consider getting a small purse for girls or a string backpack or cargo pants or shorts.

What other ideas can you think of?

17 thoughts on “Everyday Carry for Kids”

  1. Good idea. However, the knife could end up getting a child in big trouble. In school, he or she could be expelled, anywhere else he could be subject to a police check, the child could be traumatized by anyone who thought a knife in his/her bag was inappropriate.

    1. The Survival Mom

      That’s where you have to use your own common sense, Willa. If not a pocket knife, then maybe a multi-tool, unless those, too, are forbidden. Either way, kids aren’t in school 100% of the time and these tools come in handy and are worth carrying.

  2. What about an extra hoodie/jacket with all of this stuff in a small pouch tucked into the sleeve? Warmth is always comforting!

  3. Great list! I try to include an energy/protein bar that doesn’t necessarily taste great. That way it isn’t too tempting for a non-emergency. I have a particular brand (which I won’t name – experiment and find one that works for you) that I think tastes like chalk, but it’s full of good-for-you ingredients and palatable enough to eat when truly hungry. I keep regular granola bars in the car too, to prevent too many fast food stops, but if I put them in my kids’ or husband’s backpacks I suspect I’d have to replace them daily.

  4. I wouldn’t put a knife in any school child’s backpack. Not even a high school student. An 18 year old senior in a vocational-tech school (studying to be an EMT/Fireman), and who had early-enlisted in the Army was recently arrested and charged with a felony because he had a pocket knife in his emergency rescue bag in his truck, which was in the school parking lot! For opening packages, I’d suggest a pair of preschool-type blunt tip scissors for the sealed bags.

  5. @barbara, that was the most absurd, insane, demonizing of an upstanding young man I’ve ever seen and everyone who reads this blog and cares about not only preparedness but also freedom should readily donate to that young man’s defense fund. These zero tolerance policies are only breeding dependant fearful children who will grow up to be dependant fearful adults. We need to stop this madness not cower from it. A knife is an excellent EDC for a child old enough to cut fruit in the kitchen

  6. I agree with Barbara. There is zero tolerance in most schools, public or private. I don’t believe that these policies breed fearful children, necessarily. My children aren’t fearful, but knowledgeable. They have read the consequences of “weapons” policy, and although they don’t agree, they also don’t want to torpedo their future. It is not madness or cowering I’m teaching my kids, but survival at the grass roots. Sometimes you have to blend in to survive and I will tell you that school is vastly different now than even 20 years ago. I didn’t choose for Columbine to happen just like my girls didn’t choose Sandy Hook, but there are repercussions to a lemming society. My kiddos have multiple sets of different types of knives, but they stay at home. It’s a fact of a child that is not home schooled.

    Magi, thanks for the great suggestion of the icky protein bar. More than once, I’ve found the wrapper of the bar I have packed for emergencies with the explanation of, “I was hungry!”

    My one tip to pass along is to review the route they are to take on foot if they have to leave campus, if they are old enough. Review it over and over. My oldest read “One Second After” at 12 years old and it suddenly made sense to her why I have the protein bar, water and first aid kit in her backpack. I told her where to go, which field to cut across, how long to wait at the meeting spot before continuing home, if I didn’t show up by then. We review it by making up stories.

  7. I wanted to add bug spray and sunblock. My child is a transplant child and has to be protected from the sun. All children could benefit. I also wanted to mention for bug out packs…. our doctor prescribes epi pens for all our kids every year just in case.

  8. Jessica Dickson

    I noticed that Survival Mom said the knife would depend on if the child is going to school that day or not. My children are 12 and 14, and I trust them both to carry small pocket knives in places other than school. I loved this article, and I intend to talk with both of my children today about what they should do to get home in case of emergency.

  9. I recently came across a coupon for up to $100.00 off of a Rx of epi-pen. I don’t know what website that I found it on; maybe coupons.com! But it’s a great tip to find a coupon for them since my boyfriend is highly allergic to bees. If it was me I would check periodically for coupons on their website to print off! I also seen in the sunday papers you can find coupons for band aids and neosporin. I hope these tips help.

  10. You suggest water pouches from Amazon, I make my own by cleaning and re-using the grandkids drink pouches. Just cut below the straw hole and wash and sterilize, then fill with filtered tap water and seal with curling iron. I use a large permanent marker to write water on it. It needs a whole punched with a pen or knife to drink from but you should always have or be able to find something to make a small hole.

  11. Interesting article. I agree with the comment about carrying a pocket knife when appropriate. There are many companies/brands such as Leatherman and SwissArmy that make multi tools for kids. They have a whole host of tools on them but no knife. They are designed for exactly these situations. For kids in schools and scout groups etc where a knife may not be allowed.

    I suggest getting your kids one of these to start instilling the idea of carrying a multi tool as edc. When they get old enough they can switch to a tool with a knife.

    1. I’ve looked at those and thought about them–they look like a good way to start a too-young-for-a-knife child on the path to responsible tool (and later, knife) use. But I’m not sure that lack of a knife makes them acceptable for school-day carry. I’d at least check to me sure. If a kid held a screwdriver the wrong way and said something in anger, school officials would probably view it as a weapon rather than a tool. Those officials might see a need for being very far on the safe side of such things.

  12. Hi–me again.
    In light of covid, maybe a mask and some hand sanitizer, and some appropriately sized nitril
    Also, some work gloves–if they’re moving through debris from some sort of disaster, that could save them from having to use their FAK.

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