My enthusiasm for bug-out bags runs deep. Long before I started to build LadyBugOut and even before I became a mother, I was deeply invested in being as prepared as possible for an emergency event. I put together bags for my husband and I in case we ever needed to “bug out” of Los Angeles and we kept them stashed in our cars. The bags contained essential supplies to keep us safe, secure, nourished, and powered up: a head lamp, a military-grade first-aid kit, water packets, water purification tablets, high-caloric food rations (3,600 calories each!), jackets, sneakers, a map, a fuel syphon, a solar charger, etc. Utilitarian and functional? Yes. Organized? Not so much.
Wildfire risk is a fact of life if you live in California (as my family does) and in many other parts of the world. My heart still hurts from memories of recent fires that have displaced families and destroyed communities in our State. Today, we woke to learn that a dynamic fire is burning the hillsides of the Getty Center, less than 4 miles from our home. This meant my 4-year old personally knows many people that are leaving their homes. She had a lot of new questions to add to our previous series of small conversations sparked from the three fires we had in Los Angeles recently.
I get it: As parents, talking to our children about what to do in the event of an earthquake isn’t high on the list as far as fun conversations go. But it’s one that’s been especially relevant in recent months, considering the high number of earthquakes that occurred in Southern California earlier this summer. I’ve spoken with dozens and dozens of parents who are in the process of formulating their family’s emergency plans with their LadyBugOut bags, and the same concern keeps surfacing: “I want my child to be prepared, but I don’t want to scare them.”
While the notion that a child’s needs will differ from an adult’s in an emergency situation may seem intuitive, the lack of child-centric products and parental guidance available was one of the main reasons we set out to create LadyBugOut. As we’ve discussed previously, LadyBugOut bags were designed specifically with children in mind; that means the design is different, the way we engage with the bags is different, and the way it’s curated is also different. And one of the key ways that it’s stocked differently is in the nutrition pocket. Read up on the hydration and nutrition considerations we had in stocking the LadyBugOut nutrition pocket in this post by our nutritionist.
Emergency preparation is my passion, and it’s how I spend a lot of my “free” time. Why? Because practice helps build the skills and muscle memory that’s necessary in the event of a daily disruption or a natural disaster. And it’s an ongoing practice: Despite decades of experience as a medical officer in the Air Force Reserve, you’ll still find me spending parts of my weekends teaching at CERT refresher trainings, observing disaster exercises hosted by local emergency planners and the Red Cross, or taking FEMA courses of interest.
If you live in an area that is prone to tropical storms, you are likely all too familiar with the risks and challenges that come with Hurricane Season. Hurricanes are at risk of hitting for 5 months from June through November, the longest of all the natural disaster seasons. The fact these storms originate days before ever making landfall, that they can vary considerably in their size, intensity, and longevity, and that they often are followed by flooding, all increase the risk of anxiety and stress in children.
As someone who has spent decades immersed in the practice and teaching of disaster preparation, I always hoped this knowledge and skills were something that I would pass on to my children. Fast forward to today, and my four-year-old daughter is a bonafide disaster-preparation enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge with friends at school (especially when she gets to demonstrate how to roll oneself up in an emergency thermal blanket like a burrito).
Creating this bag was a labor of love in the truest sense of the word. My daughter was three at the time, and I was learning firsthand and in real time that observing an interactive, inquisitive child can show you a lot about the design process.
Over the course of 20 years as a military reservist, I have led classes for hundreds of government, civilian and military disaster-planning experts. And whether the topic of discussion is big-picture strategy or more tactical elements such sheltering and evacuations, one of the major focuses of disaster planning is caring for our most vulnerable populations—namely, the elderly and children.