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It wasn’t long ago in our country that children, even young ones, were expected to do a lot more than sit around the house and play video games. Because of this expectation and the necessity that drove it, our children were capable of much greater utility than they’re given credit for today. We tend to prolong their adolescence by protectively ushering them away from adult responsibility when really their capacity for maturity and action is astounding when properly nurtured.

One of the things I like to focus on with my children is familiarization with emergency equipment. When you have six children, you need every helping hand you can get particularly in an emergency. But if that helping hand isn’t familiar with the item you need to address a problem, what it looks like, or where to find it, then you’re not leveraging all your assets.

I prefer to make my children an asset rather than a bystander, so periodically we go through all our household and vehicle equipment: first-aid kits, go-bags, off-road recovery kits for the vehicles, hurricane supplies, etc. We lie out each kit and talk about each item inside, its purpose, how to use it, change the batteries, and so on.

I don’t expect my 7-year-old daughter to know how to use a chest seal, but she can certainly identify one and hand it to dad if she happens to be the only free hand nearby. Same goes for my 13-year-old son. Mom or dad will hook the shackles to the truck to pull a stump, but now he can reach into the bag and identify what’s needed. So, familiarize your family, and the next time you need a pair of pliers, your son or daughter can be the force-multiplier who makes the difference.

Mel Ward


Parenting and prepping are both about learning how to confront fear and mitigate insecurity. My son is in his afraid-of-the-dark phase right now. To help him overcome this natural fear and impart some survival skills in the process, we’re talking a lot about flashlights. He’s quickly learned the value of having flashlights staged by his bed and around the house.

For example, the other night he had a bad dream. Instead of lying in bed calling for me in a panic, he grabbed his flashlight, turned it on and oriented to his surroundings, and then came to me. A lot of times, the easiest way to train our children is to disguise it as some form of play. So we’ve also done a few nighttime Nerf gun battles and hide-and-seek games where I black out the entire house and only allow flashlights for searching. The use of Nerf guns allows for a little bit of negative reinforcement (getting hit with a dart) that’s still fun and light-hearted. This is a fun, mildly competitive way to teach search techniques and light discipline.

There’s also an element of light tactics here — i.e., how you don’t necessarily want to stare directly where your light is shining, or how to bounce your light off adjacent surfaces for a broader, indirect illumination. We’ve also touched on “strobing” techniques to blind or disorient an armed (with Nerf guns) opponent. Light work is the kind of thing that you can constantly reinforce through play or routine chores/household tasks. Can’t find your favorite toy? Grab your flashlight and check the way back of your closet. Using white light is something that most people do every day, but don’t think about as a useful skill. A few key pointers, instilled early on, can allow your children to turn a flashlight from a neat toy or occasional convenience into a dedicated tool for all kinds of situations.

Tom Marshall


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