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If your twelve year old was lost and alone, would he or she be able to take care of themselves and siblings/friends until they could get to help, or until help reached them? Would your idea of survival skills be different if you lived in an urban area versus living on a homestead in the middle of nowhere? After viewing the video from SNOmultimedia on what his top 5 survival skills are for kids, I wanted to expand on that to 10 Survival Skills every 12 year old should know – the Mom with a Prep version – and be sure to check out this version by Jennifer from Are We Crazy Or What!?
I’ll admit – my skills are probably skewed to my kids. We live in a highly developed suburban area so the kids are familiar with where they are. There aren’t wild spaces to explore. We don’t travel a lot, so the likelihood of crashing a plane into a remote backwoods lake is pretty slim. HOWEVER, those incidents can happen close to home – where they are involved in a car accident, they get lost on a field trip, they are left home alone for an extended time, they are separated from us because of a natural disaster, etc. So the list is developed for our particular concerns for our kids, but can translate to kids everywhere. We’re also assuming they already know how to ride a bike, how to dial 9-11, how to swim, and know their emergency phone numbers. Surviving in the environment they are in is a more likely situation than being lost in the Appalachian mountains, alone. And for us, some life skills are important because they are valid survival skills. So remember, it’s our list based off our circumstances and life experiences, your list will probably be a bit different.
Does Your Twelve Year Old Know How To:
One of the most basic of survival skills is not to panic. In panic-mode, we make big mistakes, we get confused, we get scared, we do stupid things. Think how much more scared a child would be – do they know how to control that panic and make good decisions?
If ever your child is caught in an active shooter situation, a mob experience or being chased by the neighborhood bully or bad guy, does your child know how to decide if they should run, hide or fightback? Does she spend all of her time on her phone texting her friends instead of paying attention to what’s going on around her? Does your son pay attention to where you are driving, especially in areas he’s not familiar with, so he has some sense of where he is if he had to go bring help? Do they understand the places that are dangerous for them to go, the things that are dangerous for them to do, the people that are dangerous to be with? At some point, every child needs to understand that what happens in his or her surroundings has a direct impact on them – they can’t continually act as if nothing bad ever happens. Bad stuff happens, and they need to become aware of how to handle it.
Give First Aid?
Can your child stop bleeding, perform CPR, use a splint, treat a burn? This might be the time to enroll them in a Red Cross CPR/First Aid class, grab the Boy Scout Book for First Aid or other ways to make sure that they can perform these most basic of First Aid skills by the time they are twelve.
Handle a Fire Arm?
Whether for self-defense, hunting, or sensible gun safety, by the age of twelve, all kids should know how to handle a firearm. I’m sure many will balk at that who are anti-gun, but in my mind, a child who knows how to use a gun safely is actually a child who is less likely to be accidentally shot, less likely to shoot someone else because he or she is messing around, and less likely to be blindsided if ever the need did arise to defend his family or provide food if the time came. If you don’t have the ability to do this, you can enroll in 4H or take an Appleseed course!
Feed Himself ?
Can your daughter open a can of food from the pantry without an electric can opener (bonus if they can do this!) ? Does he know how to work the stove and oven? Do they know how to prepare a basic cut of meat safely? Know safe, basic knife skills? Do they know how to harvest (and plant) from the garden and prepare a dish – fish and prepare – hunt? Do they understand what water is safe to drink ?
Does your child understand how to defend themselves if attacked? Can they use basic defense moves against an adult to try to save themselves? Do they understand when it’s time to fight and when it’s time to run? Have they taken any self-defense classes or taken martial arts training?
Find Their Way Home?
Does your child know how to find out where they are? Can they get themselves home if they ride a little too far on their bike? Do they understand the basic principles of using a compass or reading a map? Do they understand how to find their location at night by the stars….or tell their location during the day by shadows? Can they find their way home from church without a GPS? And respectively – do they understand how to use the GPS on your phone? Do they know the major streets where they live, major arteries near their house, major landmarks in their area?
Work with Tools?
Does your 12yo know how to use a knife? a hammer? a screw driver? a saw? Understand putting a basic structure together?
Building a shelter from nothing, using clothes to bundle up, blocking off entrances with blankets, starting a fire – does your child understand the basics of doing these things and why staying warm and dry so important?
Besides knowing who to ask in a situation where they are lost – and look for the community helpers and moms, do your children know how to leave clues if they are lost and trying to find their way home, do they know how to signal for help?
And importantly – do YOU know how to do all of these things? Have you taught your child? Make that a priority with the coming summer…learn a new skill a week…practice them together – BE PREPARED! If you have suggestions or your own list, put your list in the comments – we’d all love to learn more!
Other Links to check out for Survival Skills for your kids: