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Everyday Carry (EDC) for Kids

Teaching your children to be prepared is a must, but it does not have to be a frightening process. What type of everyday carry items your kids pack with them depends on several variables: age, maturity, and training are chief among them.

Everyday carry items for kids (and the rest of us) involves not just what they can tote in a backpack or purse, but what should also be on their person at all times. If you children are not homeschooled, the items carried both with your children and on them will have to be selected far more carefully, or you will be getting a phone call from a very unhappy principal.

Even homeschooled children should be equipped and trained on edc items. Part of the glorious freedom of homeschooling is devising a curriculum that gets kids out into nature and engaging in valuable hands-on educational and vocational training. Accidents and emergencies do not always happen when mommy or daddy are nearby, or are capable of helping. If an intruder rushes into your home, the homeschooled child must be trained how to respond and have the tools necessary to hide or fight – or both.

In addition to the self-reliance lifestyle the child’s family is engaged in, joining formal groups, like 4-H, Boy Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Camp Fire, or Frontier Girls, will also teach a host of outdoor and survival skills to young people. Skills are the best thing you can arm your children with. They must learn how to respond to an emergency, a threat, when to defy authority and follow the SHTF plan you have taught them, and how to communicate and find their way to safety without adult guidance.

If the children panic or are afraid to defy the non-prepping adults in a position of power over them at school, even a fully stuffed backpack of top notch EDC items will not save their lives.

Teaching children responsibility should the the top priority when developing an everyday carry plan for them. Kids lose things, sometimes a lot. If the children go to school, practice, or a club meeting and forget something they need, do not run and fetch it for them. Forgetting a page of homework or cheerleading shoes might seem like the end of the world to them, but it is not. Forgetting to carry and keep a flashlight in good working order, on the other hand, just might be.

Children, at least until they hit junior high, are going to be too small to a lot of gear, making the decision about what they do carry, all that much more important. Decisions will have to be made and some quality survival tools left out of the pack.


Children at this age love to mimic or model the actions of their parents and want to be little helpers around the home. Encourage this behavior and start teaching them to carry a small backpack designed for their age or a purse, with them.

Child-safe flashlights and lanterns and whistles are fairly inexpensive and could be part of their first everyday carry bag. When birthdays and Christmas rolls around, purchase some pretend camping equipment that can be played with both indoors and out, to foster their interest in such activities and model for them how to use the gear.

I made pretend tents using tablelcloths that go over folding tables for all of our grandkids. Out of felt, I made a fire place with a stuffed “flame” and logs, an “ax” to chop the logs (used a toilet paper roll and pipe cleaners to give it shape and sturdiness) and a foldable pond with fish and a fishing pole. I used pipe cleaners and a paper towel roll and put magnets inside a stuffed hook and inside the fish.

Many hours of outdoor skills learning fun has been had with the tents. I have also used felt and cardboard to make a pretend first aid kit, complete with bandages, for the make-believe campouts in the playroom.

Preschool and Kindergarten Everyday Carry Items for Kids

1. Flashlight – a small one that can be kept in a pocket or attached to a belt loop is ideal.
2. Granola bar, energy bar, or similar type of lightweight snack with a long shelf life
3. Juice box
4. Wallet with essential identification and contact information inside and an amount of money they can learn how to satisfy a small and immediate need.
5. Bandaids
6. Walkie Talkie – yes preschool children can be taught how to use one of these.
7. Emergency Mylar blanket
8. Whistle
9. Antibacterial lotion

Elementary School Everyday Carry Items for Kids

1. Flashlight
2. Wallet with the same essential information as carried by younger children, and some cash and/or coins.
3. Walkie talkie or cellphone
4. Extra batteries and/or charged portable charging device for the cellphone
5. Folding paper map or guide sheet to help get them to a designated space location or home – preferably by more than one route.
6. A coded guide to a hidden survival cache near their school.
7. Small first aid kit, including a quick clot bandage
8. Emergency Mylar blanket
9. Whistle – the type that hangs on a lanyard and includes a compass would be a great space saver.
10. Compass
11. Watch
12. Compact folding binoculars
13. Paracord bracelet
14. Emergency snack items, juice box, bottle of water, and lightweight food items.
15. Multi-tool – Also known as a Leatherman. This tool will most likely get the children in trouble at school if they are caught with it.
16. Antibacterial lotion
17. Seasonal accessories for an extended stay at school or a long walk home, such as a hat, gloves, Bandana, extra pair of socks, or a scarf.
18. Pepper spray – and the maturity to understand it is not a toy as well as when and how to use it. This would involve teaching the child about wind direction, too.
19. Lifestraw – at least for upper elementary age children and younger ones mature enough and trained in its usage.
20. Sunglasses and individual tube of sunblock and chapstick

Junior High and High School Everyday Carry Items

1. Wallet with money in it – this will get trickier as the kids get older. Tell them you will be checking their wallet every evening to make sure their emergency coins or cash are stil inside.
2. Key – a house key or keys to a safe house.
3. Compass
4. Flashlight
5. Whistle
6. Chapstick
7. Tactical pen – probably a violation of school policy, as well.
8. Paracord bracelet
9. Folding compact binoculars.
10. Watch
11. Antibacterial lotion
12. First Aid kit with more advanced items than they carried at a younger age, but still lightweight and portable.
13. Multi-tool or a pocket knife – again, these type of items will land your child in hot water if they are not homeschooled.
14. Matches or lighter and tinder
15. Pepper spray or stun gun
16. Walkie talkier or cellphone
17. Extra batteries and/or charged portable charging device for the cellphone
18. Seasonal accessories
19. Folding map and coded sheet directing them to hidden survival caches
20. Life straw
21. Sunglasses and a small tube of sunblock
22. An insect repellent wristlet
23. Handcuff key
24. Extra clothing – A few clothing items could be taken to school one day at a time, especially thermal underwear and a spare coat, and be stored in the child’s locker so they could layer and stay warm is the SHTF during the rainy season or winter months.

If a child of any age wears glasses or contacts, or take medication on a daily basis, these needs should be addressed in their EDC as well. Even if the child wears contacts, taking a case filled with saline and a spare pair of glasses in a case everywhere they good is a great habit to get into.

The type of clothing and footwear the children leave the home in should also be addressed. Girls may be opposed to wearing pants instead of cute skirts to school, or pants with a tactical flare that have a lot of pockets. Purchasing a cute purse that she learns to always keep with her, would enhance her on person everyday carry preparedness level.

Even the girlie girls in our family practically live in cowboy boots – we all grew up country. Wearing boots, especially if they are steel-toed, will give both boys and girls an added edge if forced to depend themselves and the ability to remained sure-footed when chased or traversing rugged terrain.

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About Tara Dodrill

Tara Dodrill
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, 'Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out', Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.


  1. Excellent suggestions for developing childhood self reliance. Don’t mean to be critical, but as an English major in college, you need to use spell-check or get someone to proof-read articles before publishing.

  2. To the Right of Attila the Hun

    For making tinder for fire starting a simple pencil sharpener works great. Every Get Home Bag should have one of these.

    Any age person can use them. These are the least expensive I could find and they are top quality.

    • To the Right of Attila the Hun, Thank you for sharing that tip and link! Those look awesome, cheap, and easy enough to work for anyone, including a child or elderly person. I am definitely going to buy several and put them in the grandkiddos EDC and bugout bags!

  3. So…Not to sound like a skeptical smart A$$, but I feel that deodorant chewing gum and several sanitary towlettes sound like a good start, but were you ever a teenager? The high level of stress and anxiety of being around a hormonally charged teen is enough to put ole dad in a mental hospital in a non shtf,wrol, average so called normal day. How about a reality check here? Prescription drugs for one thing and What, no mention at all of Birth Control? Several kinds of very effective And RELIABLE birth control, like attentive parents and those “ugly clothes” that are practical and durable, but don’t scream hey Alpha Males I’m pretty, young,fit and always ready! Seriously, just go to the entryway of any Walmart and look for the great big “The Missing” buliten board and tell me, who failed the real world survival test there? Kidnapping is real and will get even worse with social decay and societal breakdown. Dare to Prepare. D. IMHO.

    • Stanley, as the survivor of raising a teenage daughter, I hear ya on the stress level, lol. Prescription drugs would be great, but if the kids are not homeschooled, that would get them suspended. Tea Tree essential oil might not, and it i nature’s antibiotic, so that would be good to include, depending upon how anal the public school is about carrying it. I had a nephew going to an upscale public school and my sister-in-law got called in and lectured because he brought shark’s teeth back for his class that his grandpa helped him find while on spring break – they were “weapons.” In a bugout bag, I would have included birth control, but didn’t really thing about it for EDC, I guess I figured every teen boy already has condoms in his wallet and girls took their pill before leaving the house or have them in their purse, but both would of course, be handy to have in an EDC. As far as teen girl clothing options go, I am sure that will be an ongoing battle until the SHTF, and even then, I am sure some survivor girls will sneak and unbutton a few buttons on their camo work shirts and tie them up in a knot in the front..raising teen girls is not for the weak, not by a long shot!

  4. High school teacher here. Ever seen a kid’s back pack? Packs are usually very full and there’s is no room for all of this material. A paper map in the glove compartment and a pepper spray for girls to carry is about all your going to get. Far better would be self defense training and being able to run. Take your kids to Krav Maga or Jiu Jitu. Teach them how to use a side arm.

    • Good point about kids backpacks, but how much of the contents of said backpack is really necessary and could be replaced with a few more purposeful items? I’m not talking about tossing the books in favor of bug out supplies, but theres go to be SOME room available. After all, as good as Krav Maga or similar training is to defend against would-be pervs, it’s not useful for finding food, water, and shelter from the elements. A lifestraw, mylar blanket, energy bar, and some cash don’t take up much room.

      • Chris, very good points as well. A LifeStraw doesn’t take up much space, paracord bracelets could be worn or clipped onto the backpack, as could a mag light. Training the kids to defend themselves, think for themselves, and have survival gear they know how to use will increase their chances of making it home alive. Every prepper parent who still sends their child outside of the home for education must very seriously work out a detailed plan with their child so they know when and how to defy authority and find a way out of the school and to a rally point, emergency cache, or home, if the SHTF while they are at school. I was teaching during 9/11, the school went on lockdown immediately. It would have been almost impossible for a child to get past a teacher and get out of the classroom, let alone the school building, it would have taken a physical altercation with the teacher to leave the room or with school staff if they fake a bathroom break, multiple physical altercations would likely have occurred before the student made it to an exit door – which were guarded by staffers, as well.

    • William, former teacher here and I yes, backpacks are very full, unfortunately, thank to far too much homework being sent, largely by teachers who sit on their butts all day and never have to pack them – and often don’t even bother to look over the busy work and excessive homework themselves, person pet peeve rant over 🙂 Yet another reason to homeschool, especially if you are a prepper. But, your suggestions about teaching them self-defense methods is excellent advice! Storing some EDC gear in their locked and then ditching all of the color-coded 3-ring binders if there is an emergency situation is another good way to keep gear at least somewhat handy.

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