Emergency Kit Contents

Being safe when out: Creating a Survival Kit for Your Kids

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Nov 2011; updated May 2023.

What would happen if your kid got lost? Would they have the gear they need and know what to do? Read this to find out what they need.

Getting out with your kids is all about having fun. But it's always best to be prepared. Would your kids know what to do in an emergency?

As any good scout knows, being prepared is always good advice when outdoors.  You may already carry an emergency survival kit big enough for the whole family.  But what if the worst happens and a child gets separated?  Would they have the equipment and knowledge to survive until rescue arrived?

The Kids Survival Kit

Paul Osborn from the Outdoor Adventure provides some excellent advice, recommending that you focus on meeting shelter, warmth, signalling and first aid.  It's important to address your child's mental state, such as providing a torch in case it is dark, and some sweets and toys if they have to wait until found.  Read the full article Making a Kids Survival Kit on Paul's website.

Here's Paul and his daughter to explain more:

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Teach: Stay Put, Stay Warm, Get Bright, Get Noisy

Here's some more good advice to teach your kids if they get separated: Stay Put, Stay WarmGet Bright, Get Noisy

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Basic Survival Kit List

Rain Poncho

You can easily get a pack of disposable ponchos. You may be surprised at how many times these become useful - such as being caught without a coat in a Summer downpour.

They can also be used to make a shelter.

Emergency Blanket

An essential piece of kit and will help keep someone warm if they can't move.

It can also be used as an emergency sleeping bag. Not as good as the real thing, but teach your little ones that if they were to be lost, this is their emergency sleeping bag that they can stay in until rescue.

Of course, as adults, we can use an emergency blanket for shelter or to reflect heat from the fire.

Signal Mirror

Despite expensive lights, a simple mirror can flash light for miles....as long as there's sun.

Teach your kids why there is a mirror and how to use it.

Torch and Signal Light

This is an obvious bit of kit to have and will help at night.

Your kids will want to have the torch on all night. This is both good and bad.

The good is that it will make them much easier to find as the search continues through the night - and searchers will continue through the night for a child.

As this is to be used by a child, you want to get a torch that is easy for them to switch on (i.e. not too stiff). Even a child's LED light would be good enough for this survival set.

Glow Sticks

You can get packs of these quite easily these days, and I suspect your child is already familiar with how to use them from parties and school discos.

Of course, there are no batteries to worry about running out, so pop a couple in for a few nights of light.

The light will comfort your child, but it can also help rescuers, but buy brightly coloured ones so that they stand out more in the landscape. The military-grade green glow sticks you sometimes see advertised are intended to provide light but at the same time reduce loss of night vision, and the light is intended not to travel too far so that it gives away a unit's position. Of course, in a survival situation, this is the opposite of what you want. So get bright, loud colours.

Emergency Whistle

The sound from mountain whistles can travel a long way, and kids can easily blow without much effort.

This will be much more effective than them shouting and using up less energy.

The downside is that in some areas, the sound of the whistle can bounce off cliffs and mountainsides, making it hard to pinpoint the location, but it does let rescuers know that they are in the right area. This is really valuable information for them and potentially means that searchers can be pulled from other locations to help search in the correct area.

You can get some emergency whistles with extras such as signal mirrors and flints for starting a fire.

First Aid Kit

This may not be something a child can use much themselves, but sensible to put in the kit - after all, you may end up stranded with your child too.

Ziploc Bag

These can be bought quite easily. I would put a few in the kit.

They are not only useful for keeping things dry (such as a mobile phone) but they can also be used to carry water - which is essential for survival.

Psychological Items to Help With Survival

As Paul mentions, these items are things that you would want in your survival kit, but as this is for a kid, they may have little practical uses, but could give them the edge psychologically - and having the right frame of mind is a key part of successful survival.

Fire steel and striker

Your child may be too young to know how to start a fire, but once they are old enough, teach them.

It always amazes me how devastating forest of building fires can start so easily, with just the touch of a discarded cigarette. Yet when you need to start a fire to keep warm, they never want to light!!

Of course, in the case of those devastating fires, there's lots of combustible material. When you're stranded somewhere wet and cold, very little will burn.

It's therefore advisable to take a fire steel and striker (to create a spark) and some dry tinder. The easiest are some balls of cotton wall and a small jar of Vaseline (you could put these in one of the zip-loc bags).

Smear some Vaseline on the cotton wall balls. Vaseline is petroleum jelly, so it is flammable.

Use the striker to make a spark and ignite the vaseline.

This is something to practice at home, and don't expect it to work the first time.

Once you have a small flame, feed it with dry tinder and gradually build up your fire. Of course, if you're in an environment with no dry tender, your fire will be very short-lived.

Duct Tape

Duct or gaffa tape has got to be one of the most versatile items.

You can make repairs, use it to help build a shelter or use it to fashion discarded rubbish you find into something useful.

For kids, duct tape can be a bit stiff. However, suppose they can manage to peel and tear it. In that case, I'm sure they could make good use of it - my kids get through loads of sellotape while making crafts, so I'm sure they'd put any tape into inventive use....and that's the point of putting it here under *psychological *as if they can occupy their mind in making something useful, it will stop them worrying too much about being rescued.

Sweets and Energy Bars

These will give some energy but also stop some hunger.

The biggest challenge for kids is to not eat them all at once.

Water Filter

Depending on your location, local water could be very dangerous to drink - especially for a small child.

You can get some basic water filters that your kids can use, like a straw, which keeps things nice and simple and safe.

Brightly Coloured Rope

Your child may be unable to use a rope to make a shelter, and even more unlikely, any use for climbing grade rope. However, some brightly coloured rope may help with being seen.

Get them to drape it across the bushes where they 'make camp', or teach them how to make a basic den with the kit and 'decorate it with the pretty colours'.  You may wish to pre-cut some lines into smaller lengths.

Compass and Thermometer

A little compass is a good thing to have in any survival kit. Your kid may not be able to use it nor get much out of a thermometer, but useful to include it anyway.

Bothy Bag

We bought this for our family. A handy shelter, even if to get out of bad weather while eating lunch.