Survival Skills for Kids

Disaster may strike at any time and any place. Though you will no doubt do all you can to protect your children or grandchildren from harm, you may not always be around to look out for them.

Even though they’re still young, they should know some basic survival skills so that in the event you aren’t around, they’ll know what to do. It is never too early to learn.

Learning these skills doesn’t have to be boring. You can play games and role play scenarios to help them acquire and master them. For safety reasons, always have them supervised, especially when dealing with complicated stuff. Here are 24 survival tips that you ought to be teaching them.

1. Building fires

You don’t have to go far to camp when you can do it right in your backyard. This will be a great way to experience living without the comforts that they’re used to and an opportunity to learn how to make a camp fire. Teach them how to collect firewood responsibly, to safely build fires and how to correctly put them out afterwards.

2. Outdoor cooking

Once you have a fire, the next step is outdoor cooking. Most kids start by learning to cook S’mores and hot dogs. It’s also important to know how to cook animals.

A good starting point to teach them is by making “hobo bags” first. You do this by wrapping your meat and vegetables in tin foil and roasting it over the fire.

Once they know how to make those, you can move on to more complex outdoor cooking methods.

3. Finding and collecting water

Take advantage of the rain and send them out to collect rainwater using baggies, grocery bags, and plastic containers in a form of a game. Whoever collects the most, wins. Also, teach them several ways of water collection such as hanging, spreading, and half-burying the containers.

4. Water purification

The water they have collected may not be necessarily clean. There are a lot of ways of purifying water such as boiling, distillation, and using tablets. When camping outdoors, they should always keep water purification tabs in their backpacks. Teach them how to look for a water source and how to use a simple filter like a LifeStraw.

5. Reading a map, compass, and GPS

It is important for kids to know how to read a map, use a compass, and GPS in case you get separated. They can also use this to find their way home. Make it fun by doing a treasure hunt and drawing a map to find the treasure for practice. You can also print out maps of the city and point out different bug out routes that are planned.

6. Foraging

Teach them which plants are edible and which ones are poisonous. Go out on nature walks with your children and help them identify the plants and trees that you encounter. This will come in handy during camping trips and hikes.

7. Using a pocket knife

When they’re old enough, entrust them with a pocket knife of their own. It can be useful for peeling fruits, opening bottles, fishing, and even for self-defense. You should never forget that it’s still a weapon and teach them to use it with caution. Make sure you know and follow the laws and regulations regarding the carrying of pocket knives in your community.

8. Signaling for help

When hiking in the woods, teach your children to signal for help in case they get separated or lost. Dress them in bright colors to make them very easy to spot at a distance. Pack them a signal mirror or a whistle and teach them how to use these to signal. For the mirror, aim the reflected light towards the direction of your camp. For the signal whistle, blow three blasts, stop and listen for a minute, then blow again.

9. Overcoming fear of the dark

Are they still afraid of the dark? Get them off the couches and lead them on their own adventure outside. This is necessary for bug out situations where they have to move out in the night. Start by accompanying them on walks after dark. Better yet, let them play flashlight tag with other kids. Just don’t let them go too far and remember that there’s always safety in numbers.

10. Evacuation plans

You and your children should work out a plan for when something goes wrong and you need to evacuate. Assign a meet-up area and a back-up if your house is no longer safe to go back to. Also, have them memorize S.T.O.P.: Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan.

11. Hiding for safety

Hide and seek game can be useful for emergency situations. Playing this game will familiarize them with different safe spots where they can hide in case there’s trouble. When that comes, tell them to stay hidden until you or a trusted adult comes near. Remind them they should NEVER hide if the home is on fire but should get out of the house to your predetermined meeting spot.

12. What to do when lost

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to lose their child in a crowd. Tell yours to stay put if they get lost as it will be harder to find them if both of you are moving around, searching for each other. Pack a few survival items on their backpack such as a whistle, a bright bandana, and a bottle of water for signaling and hydration until you find them.

13. Keeping their mouths shut

Teach them that even though the stranger looks nice or offer them something, they should never trust anyone easily. Looks can be deceiving. Also, teach them the “No, Go, Yell, Tell”. In a dangerous situation, they should say no, run away, yell their loudest, and tell a parent or guardian what happened right away.

14. When home alone

When your kids are all alone in the house, never let them answer the door for anyone. Keep the windows and doors locked as well as the blinds and curtains shut. Tell them to turn on the TV or the radio. Potential intruders may be discouraged from coming in if they hear speaking and noise and it seems someone is home.

15. During medical emergencies

Dialing 911 and reporting an emergency may seem overwhelming to your kid. Help them get rid of those nerves by rehearsing with them. Practice some situations so that they will know what to say to the operator and what to do until help arrives. Make sure they understand when to call for help and not to use this service unless it is an actual emergency.

16. First Aid

Liven up their first aid training by creating various scenarios with their friends and let them take turns pretending to be the patient and the one administering it. Start with simple things such as how to clean and bandage a cut, how to create a sling, how to create a transport sled from a tarp and limbs. Teach them how to pack and inventory first aid kits to familiarize themselves with the contents and its uses.

17. Situational awareness

Even if you accompany your kids, they must always be aware of what’s happening around them. When in the car, you can play the license plate game, I Spy, description game (observe a certain area and recall every detail by memory), or right way to… game (give driving directions).

18. Swimming

Swimming is a survival skill everyone should learn. Sign them up for swimming lessons in your community or if you are near a small river or lake, you can teach them yourself. Emphasize water safety including how to correctly gauge depth and current of water. You never know when they’re going to need to cross water, especially in a bug out situations.

19. Gardening

This may not sound very exciting to kids at first but it’s great for them to experience how to grow their own food. Planting and nurturing their own fruits and vegetables will give them a sense of pride and teach them responsibility. This will also give them a whole new appreciation of the food that they eat on the table.

20. Scavenger Hunts

This activity is a great way of looking for usable items in case disaster strikes and the supplies run low. Have them collect as much as they can and teach them which objects are useful and which are not. Encourage them to think of uses for the items or ways to modify them for use that you may not have thought of.

21. Staying fit

If their playtime consists of playing video games and sitting on the couch the whole day, better get them outside pronto. Make them eat those vegetables and have them exercise. Playing outside can be counted as exercise so it shouldn’t be that hard. Physical fitness can be crucial in survival situations and can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

22. Bartering and negotiation

When you go to yard sales and flea markets, take them with you. Let them learn up close how to bargain for good deals. Talk to them about the importance of value and quality of items. This can help teach them how to save money as they progress in life and may be necessary in extreme situations where you need them to help barter for essential supplies.

23. Handling a fire arm

At the right age, knowing how to use a firearm is an important skill to learn. It is your choice and responsibility to teach gun safety to your children, especially if you keep one at home. With a solid understanding of safe gun handling, they can help protect themselves and family members when needed. They can learn by taking an Appleseed course or any authorized gun shooting course.

24. Self-defense

They may be just kids but they should also know how to protect and defend themselves. Teach them or let them learn some basic self-defense moves so that when they’re in a tight situation, they won’t be so helpless. This will be useful for many scenarios, even when they’ve grown past puberty.

Final Word

There you have it. These skills may need a bit of practice so don’t let your kids get discouraged if they don’t master something the first time. It will require a lot of effort and patience on your part but once you see them master a skill, you will surely swell with pride. This will also teach them responsibility, discipline, and perseverance.

How about you? Do you know any survival skills you should teach to children? Feel free to post a comment below.

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  1. Avatar

    Can I adapt this for use as a handout to parents of kids in my Cub Scout den?

  2. Avatar

    Pretty good job! We don’t have many posts or blogs about urban survival down here in Brazil.
    Is it Ok if I translate and share parts of it? Will be really usefull nowadays…
    THX a lot!

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