There has been some concerning stuff in the news lately that has made a lot of people worry that their children may not always be safe at school. Even though statistically speaking, any given disaster is unlikely to occur at any given time, there is no harm in wanting your child to be as prepared as possible for what they might face while they are away from home. This includes big, scary disasters like tornadoes, active shooter situations, or earthquakes; and also little, every-day emergencies like I-forgot-to-brush-my-teeth-this-morning or I-left-my-lunchbox-on-the-bus.
But for teens reading this (because I don't doubt that there is a sizable population of teen emergency preparedness enthusiasts) you're in the thick of it, on the ground and in the trenches. Most teens spend most of your waking hours outside the home at school, work, or extracurricular activities and I bet you're no exception. Because of that, the odds are pretty good that you will be away from home when or if disaster strikes. That 72-hour kit your mom stashed in the hall closet for you isn't going to do you much good when you're several miles away, but it's not practical for you to carry a full 72-hour kit with you at all times, either.
To solve this problem, put together a small emergency kit that can fit in your locker or the bottom of your backpack. A smaller kit is a good idea for anyone who spends most of their time away from home, whether you are a teen or a working professional. Instead of enough supplies for a full 72 hours, a small kit can tide you over until you are able to return home and will help you get through the rest of the day. (Adults not wanting to feel left out can put together a grown-up version to keep in your desk drawer at the office or in the trunk of your car.)
Teens: If this is something you'd like to have in your life, don't wait for your parents to do this for you. You're on your way to becoming a grown-up and this exercise will help you take some responsibility for your own safety.
Parents: If you want your teens to have one of these, get them actively involved in the process of putting this together. This will give them a sense of ownership.
- Emergency blanket
- Advil or other over-the-counter medication. Note that some schools have very strict policies regarding over-the-counter medication on school premises. While it is handy and useful to keep in your kit, you should above all adhere to the institutional policies.
- Granola bars, dried fruit, or crackers.
- Extra toiletries, including deodorant, contact solution (if you wear contacts), and a spare toothbrush. Expect to use these more often because of those inevitable every-day emergencies. How often have you known teenagers to forget about their hygiene in the rush to get to school on time?
- Extra pairs of socks
- Feminine hygeine products
- Spare folding hairbrush and hair elastics
- Hand sanitizer
- Spare water bottle
- Mini multi-tool. Most schools will not allow pocketknives, but you can do as much in a pinch with this little guy.
- Extra book (to stave off boredom)
- Emergency cash.
Ideally this shouldn't take up any more space than a gallon-sized ziploc bag, a perfect size to keep in your locker or under the passenger's seat in your car. Please also take note that nothing on this list will break the bank – you could easily purchase everything with pocket change. It may be best not to advertise you have this emergency kit at school, lest the other kids hound you day and night asking to “borrow” their emergency supplies.
Remember, putting together your kit is not the end of your preparedness journey. If you Replace you experience a lot of every-day emergencies, don't forget to restock the consumable items in your kit on a regular basis. If you rarely use anything in your kit, go through it every six months or so so you can rotate out things that may expire soon.