How to Make an Emergency Survival Kit for Kids at School

Mom with a PREP | Create an emergency kit for your kids for school

One of our biggest concerns with having our kids at school, as folks focused on preparedness living, is that we won’t be there in a time of crisis to help them out. So it’s especially important to prepare our children the best that we can, above and beyond what the school is able to do for them, and what their Everyday Carry (EDC) can do.

But why would you even need a mini Emergency Kit? Don’t the schools provide enough?

  • School lock-down
  • Local Weather Emergency
  • Regional Emergency
  • Bus accident
  • You don’t show up (or whomever their ride is) or their bus is wrecked on the way home.

From our experience, schools aren’t really prepared for long-term lock downs or disasters. Rarely does a classroom kit contain enough water and food for an extended time for an entire classroom of children. So it’s prudent to help your child.

One of the ways we can do that is to create a mini-Bug Out Bag for our kids. This can be something they keep tucked away in their lockers, at the bottom of their book bag or in their desk or cubby at school. It needs to be somewhere easily accessible to them without breaking the rules of the school.

Items to Include in Your Child’s Emergency Survival Pack

  • Water (these emergency pouches may be hard for your little ones to open so if you can, stick a small water bottle in)
  • Protein Snack or Granola bar (or both)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp
  • Emergency Whistle (and don’t skimp on this — cheap whistles often don’t work or are not strong enough to be heard in a lot of noise. We made that mistake when we first created our kits and found out they just don’t work when needed).
  • Cell phone (this may be an issue for some schools, but we would have our kids take a throw-a-way cell in their packs, just in case).
  • Small first aid kit – and the knowledge on how to use what you’ve enclosed. This can be as simple as a few bandaids and a tube of antibiotic ointment)
  • Emergency Blanket – while the cheaper mylar blankets seem a better buy, they are pretty flimsy and tear easily. This can serve as a poncho, something to sit on, to keep warm with, etc.
  • Extra health-related items your child uses (of course we have to say for the attorneys….please be sure to follow your school’s rules for medication storage and uses……. )
  • hard candies for comfort & energy
  • Comfort item (small stuffed animal or toy to bring comfort in crisis)
  • Chapstick and antibacterial lotion hand cleaner.
  • Photo album – you can create a small photo album for your child to have photos of the family to help bring them comfort. It is also a great ID item in the chaos of pick up after to have a photo of you with them for rescue workers to help release to the appropriate guardian). 
  • Wipes – we put a small package of wipes to help keep them clean


You can store supplies in a zip top bag, a small baby wipe box, a pencil box, or if you’re really good at packing small supplies, a large Altoid box!

Just make sure your younger children understand that this isn’t for play and that they aren’t to pull it out at snack time or recess, nor discuss with other kids that they have ‘toys’ in their packs. Please also follow the rules of your school about what can legally be brought onto campus and what you can do about it. 

Note: It was mentioned in the comments that generic supplies for a whole classroom should be the way to go and that it can be dangerous to have this only for your child. But what school really has all of these supplies on hand for all children? Not any that I know of. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to make sure that my child has what they need, if at all possible. This goes not just for the classroom, too. If they ride a bus, these items may be useful for your child if there’s a bus wreck, or if they have an accident riding home from school on their bike. Take a look at a bigger picture and see how you can help your child and don’t rely on the system to do it for you. 

Your Thoughts: What other items would you include in your child’s bag?


Learn how to create an emergency survival kit for your child in case of an emergency while in school and you can't be there to help them ...


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  1. Irish-7 says

    Thanks for addressing this vital subject! For security and legal reasons, kids cannot have pocket knives or lighters, like I did when I was in high school. I bought the SOL Emergency Kits for my whole family, but since there is a blade contained, my kids cannot take it to school.

  2. Melissa says

    My kids would get in trouble with almost everything on the list except hard candy! And they would eat that on the bus!!!
    Sad but true most public schools don’t want your kids to be prepared on their own for anything but schoolwork πŸ™

  3. says

    My son(teen) refuses to bring the cell phone and other things(against the rules mom) ,,,frustrating because I see so many lockdowns and other emergencies I want him prepared

  4. says

    It is not against the rules at my daughter’s school for most of these items, thankfully. I am meeting with the school’s Safety and Security Director this Monday about some of the other concerns I have, though. I don’t think our district is prepared enough and most of the schools don’t do things the same way. No consistency. Most teachers wouldn’t know how to use an AED, for example, even though the schools have one. Substitute teachers have little training in emergency preparedness. Find out what your schools really have planned for your kids. Kinda scary.

  5. Carla says

    I used mine. I work in a school and the school was locked down–outside. Kids were terrified! I simply went to my truck and pulled out emergency blankets, granola bars, extra clothing , etc. As it was a cold February day. Many children were calmed by at least one adult being prepared! Peace of mind is priceless in a crisis situation!

  6. Louise says

    I have a list of emergency contacts in my daughter’s backpack, that she is not allowed to take out (folded up tightly in a ziptop bag) with relatives who live close and far. I figure the more people on the list the better. She also knows that if we can’t be found after the first day of any disaster she is to seek out the nearest military personnel (both of her parents are veterans) and request that she be shipped either to the air base nearest her paternal grandfather or the air base nearest her maternal grandmother.

  7. Kent says

    Thank you for addressing this. I am an elementary teacher. This is my biggest fear, that I will be at school, something will go sideways and I will have all of these sweet kiddos with no food and no water because their parents think” it’ll never happen”- whatever” it” is. I have made it my “ministry” to make emergency kits for my students who don’t have one by the end of September, which is upwards of 12-15 kids each year.Every school in our district has a very well practiced emergency plan, and we are as prepared as we can be, but if something does happen, I want all of my little ones to be taken care of. But I am grateful that you are bringing attention to the fact that we need to be prepared, especially for our kids.

  8. Matt says

    I see a couple of comments where the kids say bringing something is against the rule, I too have heard this however I am their parent and I make the rules. The schools work for US on our tax money, if I want my kid to take something they will and IF alone will deal with the school as my children are to listen to me first and foremost over anyone. These are your/our kids, not the governmwnts or the schools. They abide by our wishes, and if more people take a stand we will get our chools under control. Thanks.

    • Jasmine says

      I am so thankful that more and more parents are starting to see that ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the safety and preparedness of our children. I would like to start a list here soon and school starts next week for my little angels so let’s keep our fingers crossed that I don’t have to deal with “that isn’t allowed”. My kids safety is first!! πŸ™‚

      • Rcat says

        I do like the idea of the school emergency kit, but I know from experience as a retired teacher in a southern state, that when the tornado siren sounded, we hit the hall as fast as we could. I counted kids as they flew out the door and my assistant was in charge of grabbing the ledger that listed students with parents names and phone numbers. There was no time for anyone to get anything from a backpack or go back to a desk if they had been at a center or reading group. If it ended up that we were in the hall for long periods of time (I remember one day we spent 4 hours there) we adults would sneak back in the room for snacks, and books to keep them entertained while letting them go to the bathroom one at a time. And yes, each district does have policies for disasters and all sorts or contingencies (we were 1/2 mile from the county jail and frequently had lockdowns), but few teachers actually read those thick notebooks (I did). If a tornado had hit soon after we got into the hallway, the emergency bag would have been sitting in the classroom.

        • says

          Not every emergency equals being sent out into the hall away from your equipment. Not every school has lockers in the hallway. There are always going to be variables about how things work for each individual. It doesn’t hurt to try to cover the bases, regardless if they are something that works for you.

  9. Schantalle Stephens says

    Or possibly for a teacher gift around the holidays you could put together an emergency kit. Then you won’t have other kids fighting your child for what they have if the worst case happens.

  10. Nancy says

    Individual kits for children are a safety RISK! Generic supplies are the way to go. Students evacuate to the field. It is raining. With individual kits, each child waits until adults find each individual kit and distribute. Meanwhile, everyone gets wet and cold. With generic supplies, you grab boxes of rain ponchos or space blankets and toss out ziplock bags of 10 or 12 to students. Teachers and staff will take their responder roles in Search, Rescue, Medical Treatment, Student Release, Incident Command. Most classrooms will be joined to two or three other classrooms after attendance is taken. Do you want adults to be treating the injured or wading through cute little kits (If their parent actually brought one in and stocked it properly), that will be dumped out on the field?

    • says

      In a perfect world, every classroom will be set up with a full compliment of emergency gear for situations. But it’s not a perfect world, so my job is to prepare my child the best I can.

  11. Brandon Awadis says

    Or possibly for a teacher gift around the holidays you could put together an emergency kit. Then you won’t have other kids fighting your child for what they have if the worst case happens.

    • says

      That is a good idea, however, not all schools allow something like this coming from the students as opposed to the district standard. So still best to prepare your child the best you can.

  12. JR says

    My kids elementary school here in Alaska, actually required a minimal kit to be sent in at the start of school. A toothbrush, tissue, soap, extra socks, underwear, hat, & gloves. Each classroom visibly had extra food & water on hand. At the time I thought that was a great idea! We have earthquakes, and sometimes volcanoes erupt that cause ash fall. My kids still carry an expanded version of this even though they don’t attend this school any longer.
    My son carries the above, and 2 NuGo bars, fruit snacks, an extensive family & friends contact list which I have copied my drivers license and signed (so any official knows it is actually from me), hand warmers, a small pen style flashlight, that the top pops up so it can act as a mini lantern – he is afraid of the dark, a house key, 2 N95 flat fold dust masks, band aids, and mini key chain essential oil blends (2ml roll ons) kit, which he’s very familiar with using- his eyes lit up when he saw the mini version; he is allowed to carry a cell phone, it normally remains at the bottom of his school bag during classes.
    Last year, we had some freezing rain, and they did not cancel school as they should have. His bus (along with 3 others) went off the road. He was delayed for about 3 hours. He called me up and said we’re off the road, nobody is hurt, but I’ll be late. No, he didn’t want me to come get him, lol. He actually didn’t use anything other than the phone. He knows the supplies are for “emergency” but if he uses something it’s okay, as long as he tells me so it can be replaced.
    His school will be further away this year, so I will be adding a small cell charger & cord, and adding a whistle and even a cheap emergency blanket is a great idea. His school bag is a sling style bag (kids always use just one strap anyway!) with pals webbing we bought on ebay which he’s overly pleased with, and it has way more pockets than I would have imagined, Everything fits in a small pocket easily.
    My parents both lived here during the 64 earthquake, so this is just a matter of how I’ve grown up. Whenever my kids go somewhere without us, they are told what to do in the even of an earthquake. My 16 year old girl rolls her eyes at this, but I have just made it a habit. They know if they should stay put, or go to the nearest person on the list. In the high schools case, in reading the handbook I found a likely little known gem – if there is any kind of “civil” drill, students are allowed to be released as a “walking” student and proceed home, this is about 2.5 miles. So we’ve copied this page for her to keep, so if necessary she can make haste home. Once anyone is home, the dogs aren’t going to let anyone pass without having to kill the dogs first. I don’t intend for any of my family to ever end up in the care of FEMA, I actually like our chances better on our own – even without our home if necessary. My father is a hunting guide, so I have actually grown up somewhat in the bush, knowing how to live without electricity and running water for months at a time. At the time I hated this, now I count myself blessed to have this knowledge ingrained.

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