FlipBoard

Welcome to our new Magazine format! All new content will now be brought to you in this easy, new format. All our older content can still be found by scrolling below. Simply click the ">" to start the magazine and navigate via your arrow keys.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

40 Survival Skills Your Kids Need to Know

As adults, we take it upon ourselves to make sure that we are prepared, that we have a safe home for our family, that we have planned to protect our family members in the event of a worst case scenario, and that we are up on all of the survival skills (from HAM radio use to tactical shooting) that could see us through a disaster. One thing many adults fail to consider is that after a disaster, they may be the one who is incapacitated, that their kids may be far away from home and left on their own to survive, or that your well studied skills may not be able to save your kids and they may, in fact, be forced to save their own lives. Here's the skills your kids need to know in order to save themselves or even save you in a SHTF scenario:
  1. CPR and AED certification. Let's face it, if you are old and over weight and your teens are young and healthy, who is most likely going to have to perform CPR on whom?
  2. Basic first aid. If your kid is with their friend and their friend is bleeding to death, it just makes sense that they know to apply a towel and direct pressure to control the bleeding because there is no way you will get there in time to provide this type of first aid.
  3. Their personal information. I have seen teenagers that need to ask their parents when their birth date is. Duh. Either the kid was an idiot or the parent was for not teaching them this basic information. All kids, from the time they learn how to speak, need to know the basics--name, address, birth date, parent's information, allergies, etc.
  4. How to feed themselves. This includes everything from how to shop for food to how to cook safely. Some teens have no idea how to fend for themselves where food is concerned unless there is a McDonald's nearby. Additionally, everyone should know how to forage for food (very useful in an emergency) including dumpster diving, foraging in the wild, etc.
  5. How to use money effectively. This includes how to save money, how to spend money, how to stay out of debt, and how to invest money.
  6. How to earn money. From a very young age, kids need to know that you don't get paid just for existing. There is a process for making money and everyone needs to learn this process.
  7. How to speak well. This is a multi-faceted skill which will allow them to speak clearly and politely to others, address a crowd, speak persuasively, tell a story, tell a joke, etc.
  8. How to read and write well. I don't mean how to read a couple of books then never read again or how to write a sentence. We are talking about how to read up to the college level, how to read for pleasure and read to educate themselves (without being told to), and how to write everything from a research paper to an advertisement to a letter to a friend to interesting website content.
  9. How to deal with fire. This includes everything from how to start, maintain and extinguish a camp fire to how to extinguish a fire in the home and/or how to escape from a house fire.
  10. How to procure water. Yes, water usually comes out of the faucet but that may not always be the case so kids need to know where and how to find water in an emergency, how to purify water, and why this is necessary.
  11. Outdoor survival skills. If your kid ever ends up lost in the wilderness, you will want to make sure that they have the best opportunity survive. This is done by ensuring that they have a very well rounded, and well practiced, slate of outdoor survival skills (how to find food, how to find shelter, how to stay warm, how to signal for help, etc).
  12. How to handle firearms. Growing up this was a skill every kid learned however this is getting rarer and rarer these days. Everyone needs to know how to handle a firearm whether you ever plan to use one or not. Not knowing anything about firearms and ending up having to use a weapon like you learned on TV or in the movies can get you killed.
  13. How to fight. Yes I know that teaching kids to work out their problems by talking is important but sometimes they may find themselves in a position (ie: being kidnapped or in a situation when they are being attacked by other kids) where there is no substitute for knowing how to fight. Consider a karate class.
  14. How to drive. Another very useful skill. Growing up on a ranch, we all learned how to drive (tractors and trucks) by the age of 12. While the last thing I want to see driving down the road is a 12 year old, knowing how to drive (motorcycles, jet skis, manual and standard transmission vehicles, etc) is a skill that most older teens should know.
  15. How to make good decisions. Unfortunately the judgement/decision making part of a kid's brain isn't fully developed until they are in their early twenties, however it is never too early to start teaching your kids how to make good decisions and rewarding them accordingly.
  16. How to report a crime or other emergency. Kids should learn when and how to call 911 as soon as they are able to grasp the concept of calling for help.
  17. What the family communication plan is. This may start out as an emergency contact info card attached to your kindergartner's backpack and evolve into the local, regional, and national family contacts from your family emergency communications plan being put on your teen's cell phone. In all cases, your kids need to know how to contact someone other than you in the case of an emergency or disaster.
  18. How to swim. Swimming is a basic skill that everyone should know how to do whether you plan to swim much or not. Better safe than sorry.
  19. How to properly use, and the importance of using, safety gear. Everything from child safety seats to bike helmets to life jackets should be covered here.
  20. How to protect themselves from dangerous people. You don't want to scare them so they won't talk to anyone, but kids need to know that there are sexual predators (both strangers and those known to them), drug dealers, gang bangers, and others who pose a threat to them. Teach them how to identify and deal with these types of people.
  21. How to protect themselves on the internet. Since kids these days consider the internet as necessary as air, they are often very comfortable with putting their whole life online. Common sense safety guidelines need to be taught to kids in order for them to stay safe (ie: don't put your phone number and address online), out of jail (ie: absolutely no sexting), and psychologically unharmed (ie: how to diffuse cyberbullying, etc).
  22. How to keep their stuff organized and well cared for. This means their BOB is stocked and ready to go, their homework is organized and turned in on time, they can clean and safely handle (under your supervision) their firearms, etc.
  23. What to do in the event of a school shooting. Again, you don't want to scare your kids needlessly however school shootings are happening more and more often. Do your research, find out what your kid's school shooter plan is, and then share information with your kids in an age-appropriate manner (note there is no "right" answer to what to do during a school shooting as each situation is different, raising awareness levels about this topic, however, is the goal).
  24. How to navigate. Map, compass, GPS device, etc. Being able to navigate from point A to B, whether by understanding and using the subway or local bus system map, or finding their way in the wilderness with a map and compass, is a good skill to have.
  25. How to travel by themselves. One mom let her nine year old son travel by himself on the subway a year or so ago and the backlash was both quick and loudly negative. This is too bad because the kid did fine, got himself home, and was all the more independent for the experience. Kids should be able to travel (age appropriately of course) by themselves so that should TSHTF, they will at least have some skills and practice at getting home by themselves.
  26. How to make basic home repairs. Obviously you don't give a five year old a soldering iron and let him go to work on the plumbing, but by starting kids out early (even a three year old can learn the difference between a screwdriver and a hammer), and by steadily giving them more knowledge and practice, you will end up with a teenager who will be able to help you around the house and turn out some pretty amazing projects as well.
  27. Hunting and fishing. Learning how food gets from walking on all fours to laying on the dinner plate is an experience that sadly, fewer and fewer kids get to learn. These are, however, very useful skills to have (and also makes for good parent-kid bonding experiences too).
  28. As many sporting skills as possible. Skiing, boating, horseback riding, basketball, baseball...there is a very long list of sports that kids can learn that will build their strength, endurance, team work skills, and self esteem.
  29. How to help others. Babysitting is a good skill to have, so is volunteering. By learning how to take care of others, kids learn leadership skills, empathy, decision making, and how to help out when needed whether it is an ordinary day or they are caught in a disaster situation.
  30. The sciences and math. Yes, I know kids take these classes in school and think they will never use the information they learn (so why learn it?), however judging distance, probability, basic physics, how chemicals react, etc. will put them in good standing for college and could also come in quite useful during a disaster.
  31. How to walk. Seriously. My two pet peeves are parents who are still rolling their kids around in a stroller when the kid is four or five years old and parents who drive their kids back and forth to school each day when they only live less than a mile from the school. Kids have feet, let them use them. Often.
  32. How to think logically. Kids can solve quite a few problems, both large and small, when they know how to think logically. A good way to do this is by playing games with them--chess, checkers, Monopoly, etc.
  33. How to be observant. Kind of like the "I spy" game but with the need to remember a whole bunch more details.
  34. How to build things. Not only can kids exercise their creativity skills, but by learning how things work and how to build things (a tree fort, a simple radio, etc) your kids will be better prepared for a disaster as well as life in general.
  35. How to keep and improve their health. The number of obese kids these days is horrifically high. A kid can't take care of themself if they can't even run a half block, if they eat "empty" calories that keep them hungry all the time, and if their blood sugar/blood pressure/cholesterol numbers rival that of a senior citizen.
  36. How to hide, how to evade, how to escape. Hide and seek is a kids game with its basis in some very real necessary skills for survival. Hopefully your child never finds themself in a dangerous situation, and of course, you can't just assume a kids would know how to escape from say, kidnappers, but by "playing" games that can help them develop skills that would help them hide, help them evade someone who is following them, and how to escape should they become trapped, these critical skills can become second nature.
  37. How to be alone. Our society is becoming more and more connected (as evidenced by kids who send 5000+ text messages each month!) yet there is an art and skill in being able to be alone, all alone, for a period of time without suffering from abject boredom or panic.
  38. How to recognize and deal with natural disasters. One of the "heroes" of the Indonesian tsunami was a kid on vacation who had learned how to recognize the signs of a tsunami in school; she told her family and others in the hotel that they needed to flee to higher ground and this saved their lives. No matter where you live, there are probably natural disasters that you can more or less expect to happen, learn about the dangers, and how to protect yourself, and make sure your kids learn this as well.
  39. How to seek help. This includes teaching your kid how to determine what kind of help is needed (ie: is the teen suicidal, addicted to gambling, being threatened at school), and who can best help them (parent, teacher, school counselor, etc).
  40. How to plan, manage, and complete comprehensive projects. Think Eagle Scout type projects. By undertaking such challenges, kids learn all kinds of skills that will put them on the road to success in school and in life, in addition to preparing them to deal with whatever other challenges come their way.
Just like adults, kids need to be skilled and prepared for the vagaries of life. Although it is human nature to try to protect children from "real life", teaching your kids the skills they need to survive a disaster will also pay dividends as they also learn to become better prepared for life in general.