Monday, August 30, 2010

15 Items to Send Back to School With Your Kids

It's back to school time around these parts. Although I don't encourage loading up your kid's school backpack to the point where they get a hernia, here's some important items you may want to stash in their packs for emergency use:
  1. A granola bar. It can be left in the bottom of their pack and get mashed to pieces but when they don't have time to catch a meal in the cafeteria or have to go straight to practice from school, they will eat it if they are hungry enough.
  2. A small, flat flashlight that can hang on the key fob in their backpack (can be used if they get locked in a closet, the power goes out, they need to signal for help, etc).
  3. A cell phone. I'm not sure how earlier generations survived without being able to contact others 24/7 but we lived. These days, giving your kid a cell phone is one extra safety tether you can provide them. Obviously, you want to program all important numbers on it including the numbers for you and the spouse, a trusted neighbor, grandma and grandpa, etc.
  4. A copy of their updated immunization record (this is actually given to the school and not kept in their backpack).
  5. A USB drive with all of their important information on it (family photos, a scanned copy of their passport, medical information, contact info, etc).
  6. Emergency meds (check with the school about their policy on this). If your kid has a sever allergy, to the point where waiting for help could result in death like from a food allergy, they should probably carry an Epi Pen with them at all times.
  7. Some skills (these don't weight anything!). All kids should know CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver, what to do if a stranger confronts them, how to resist peer pressure, how to call 911, etc.
  8. Freezer packs if they take their lunch to school (prevents nasty stuff like food poisoning).
  9. $20 hidden in their backpack. This way if they call you because they forgot their lunch money or need money for photos, you can direct them where to find the stashed cash and not have to leave work and drive over to the school to give it to them.
  10. A tiny plastic poncho if there is the possibility that they could be walking home during an unexpected downpour (also serves other emergency functions).
  11. On their smart phone or iTouch: apps that could come in handy during an emergency (there are literally hundreds of apps; look through the options with your kids and decide what would be useful in your area such as hurricane warnings, bus schedules, etc). They may never use these apps but at least they will have them available in an emergency.
  12. An info card, especially for young children. Include information such as their name, address, parent's contact info, classroom number, bus number, any allergies, medications, or medical problems, etc.
  13. A copy of the family emergency plan including who your emergency contacts are, prearranged meeting spots, etc.
  14. Appropriate safety gear such as a helmet if they will ride their bike to school, a bright jacket if they will be walking to school, etc.
  15. Some self defense skills. These could range from knowing who and where the neighborhood registered sex offenders are to taking karate class to knowing how to escape from a stranger.
Obviously you don't want to scare your kids with all of the "what if" disaster possibilities, but having a few items and skills with them at all times could prove useful in the event of a disaster.