Family values. They're a cornerstone of the preparedness lifestyle - and of course, American life in general.
Teach Kids Preparedness
That's why, today, I want to spend a little time focusing on the future of preparedness - children.
Instilling the values of self-reliance and emergency preparedness in our children and grandchildren is absolutely vital to preserving our nation's liberties for generations to come.
I know, teaching kids about preparedness can seem like a daunting task. In fact, it can be hard enough convincing adults to get serious about preparedness.
But the truth is, if you follow some simple guidelines and make it about having fun, you can raise a young preparedness expert in no time.
PREPAREDNESS LESSONS KIDS WILL LOVE
To a lot of folks, teaching preparedness lessons to children is a foreign concept. Being a good parent or role model is often a big enough challenge on its own.
However, people have been teaching preparedness lessons to children since the beginning of recorded history.
Even in our modern era - there has been an organized effort to teach boys and girls to "Be Prepared, in Mind and in Body," for over a hundred years. I'm referring to the international Scouting Movement, of course. Sadly, participation in these kinds of youth programs has declined recently. If you have one available to you, I highly recommend seeking them out.
Fortunately, you don't have to be a Scout Leader to teach preparedness lessons to kids. You can learn a thing or two about teaching these lessons from the Scout Method, though.
One of the biggest principles the Scout Method emphasizes is "learning by doing." This gives children an informal education (which means it doesn't feel like school), with hands-on orientation in practical skills.
What's the benefit of using the Scout Method? It happens to be pretty fun - and what kid doesn't love that?
Below, I'll get into some practical ideas for "learning by doing" in terms of preparedness.
Starting a Fire
Starting a Fire
Fire is the backbone of our civilization. It's critical to our survival, but it's something we take for granted with modern cooking and heating appliances. During an emergency, a fire allows you to stay warm, cook food, sterilize water and more - but not enough people understand the basics of starting one.
Ensure that your children are familiar with starting a fire using sticks and dry brush, and equip them to use survival fire starter equipment. Of course, make sure to also show them proper safety techniques when around fires.
Make it fun: Finally, end the lesson with a fun reward - like hot dogs or s'mores over the open fire!
Access to clean water is another thing we take for granted, but becomes a point of survival in disaster situations where clean water is not readily available. Drinking contaminated water can cause illness and possibly death, so teaching kids how and why to purify water - by means of a water filtration device, or boiling water (now that they can start a fire); is critical for survival.
One of the best hands-on ways to demonstrate water purification is by having them collect some "dirty" water from a creek, pond or equivalent. Then show them how a water filter "magically" removes all the sediment - and tell them even microscopic, "invisible" stuff gets removed too.
Make it even more fun: Run an "experiment" with a few different kinds of water treatment methods. Then, have the kids rank the clean water produced on taste, color and more.
Using a Map and Compass
When we need directions, we use our GPS systems or Google Maps...but what happens when there's no power and no gasoline to power your car? What if, in the midst of chaos, you're separated from home? Adults and children should learn basic navigation skills such as using print maps and compasses, and learn the landmarks near their home. Some stargazing at night with an eye towards the North Star and some constellations can help too.
Make it fun: Have a "scavenger hunt" or something similar with directional navigation, map wayfinding and more.
Today, food is readily available. But in the worst of disasters, food becomes scarce. What can you do to prepare for an emergency and ensure you don't go hungry? Teach your youngsters the basics of food preparation and cooking so that they will have these valuable skills going forward.
Learning to plant seeds and grow fruits and vegetables is imperative in a prolonged survival situation, and recognizing poisonous from nutritious foods in nature can be an advantage. Learning to hunt game and prepare it as food is never a bad idea, either.
Whatever food preparation or preservation skills you can pass on, kids are sure to enjoy them. Food is colorful and a little messy - two things kids love. Let them get their hands on the food while teaching safety with knives, appliances and more.
Make it fun: Kids love pickles. Making pickles is probably one of the easiest and safest ways to teach about food preparation - and kids will take pride in the fact that they made their own from scratch.
No matter what the disaster - be it floods and fires or looting and riots - teach your children the importance of always having an exit plan. Movie theaters, schools, malls - teach them to be aware of where the exits are in case of emergency, how to exit quickly in case of crisis, and where to go from there (a trusted neighbor, relative's house or prearranged meeting point).
Make it fun: When you visit someplace new, ask your kids to identify the emergency exits. Include a fun reward, if possible. Example: at the movies, you can give them a little extra popcorn or candy.
Staying Safe in an Emergency
Children should understand how to keep themselves safe during an emergency. If they are separated from you, teach them to seek out a police officer or other adult in a position of authority if they can't reach you. Also teach them how to stay safe outdoors to protect against animals, the elements and other injuries.
Make it fun: Teach your children a "code word" that teaches them to be on high alert in potentially dangerous situations. This will make them feel included and safe, and encourage them to communicate and get help when needed. Reward kids for using these situational skills with stickers on a chart or with special treats on occasion.
Emergency Treatment Checklist
Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other injuries do happen, even with the best prepared plans. Teach your children the basics of first aid including cleaning cuts and applying bandages since a simple infection can cause a lot of problems.
You can teach an older child (10 and up) to treat their own (minor) injuries. For younger children, have them practice on a doll or stuffed animal and treat a "boo-boo" or two.
Make it fun: Once you've completed a first-aid lesson or two, give the child their very own first-aid kit that is theirs to keep and take care of.