Teach your kids how to burn stuff!

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Burn Stuff??? Survival Training for Kids.

Teaching kids how to burn things may at first seem somewhat irresponsible, but is it? No. Well, maybe in the house or to burn down a house...wait a minute, what if you have a wood-burning fireplace in the house?

Anyway, um, where was I, oh yeah, No. Like nearly any activity in which you actively invite the participation of your kids, they will get excited and it, of course, becomes yet another opportunity to bond. This is one our biggest goals as single-parents. What better way to do it then letting your kids light things on fire? Not just fire of course, but survival techniques. Where and how to obtain shelter, water and food in an emergency.

Especially now with the COVID19 pandemic raging, crap happens. Natural disasters, economic disasters, civil unrest or running away from zombie-Muppets all require basic survival skills. All of us need this and especially our children, should they ever get separated from us during one of the aforementioned scenarios.

On a chilly October (2020) day the kids and I scuttled down onto the beach where I had grown up building fires and figuring out adolescence. I taught them how to build their first fires. Of course on the way out my son lamented the fact that he was away from his warm house and Minecraft screen. Each armed with a BBQ lighter, we scoured the rocky coast for pieces of rolled-up bark. Specifically birch bark. Because of the oils in it, this bark will light on fire even when wet and will burn hot enough for your kindling to take. The fires were lit and the clickity-clat of the freight train just meters behind us brought the greatest sense of nostalgia.

Everyone who builds fires regularly has their own way. On the rocky West Coast beach, I've found that building a 'bed' of medium-sized flat(ish) wood insulates the coals, allows the fire to 'take' more quickly and is more easily maintained than trying to start kindling on bare rock or dirt. What a success! We learned how those seemingly flimsy emergency thermal blankets work and just how warm they keep you. How they keep the wind and elements off of you, Walking back in the dark along the railroad tracks, my daughter exclaimed, "I hope we can do this every two weeks..." She's so specific. It was just wonderful. So wonderful that, now early November, we went back and this time learned how to make a simple emergency shelter with those same thermal blankets and a piece of rope.

Of course we made a fire and torches to wave around (Just wrap the birch bark around a stick and voila!)

What You Need

1. Emergency supplies in a go-bag, bug-out bag or emergency kit

2. Skills

Now don't me wrong, I'm not telling you to dig a bunker, shave your head, get a pit-bull, buy gold, guns and ammo; I am saying that you and the kiddos should learn how to survive for 72 hours. The post-apocalyptic behavior is usually reserved for the hardcore preppers. They know their stuff for sure, and I admire their gusto, but most of us don't have those kinds of resources and "I am Legend" isn't our favorite movie... 72 hours is the minimum estimated time that emergency responders can take to get to you in the case of a disaster.

I am saying that you and the kiddos should learn how to survive for 72 hours.

#1- Emergency bag

Okay, so what do we need in our bag? For a basic emergency kit you need to ensure: Shelter, Water, food and First Aid. The following is a good simple list:

  • Small backpack, preferably one for the car and one for each family member strong enough to carry it.

  • Extra prescription Medication you may be taking

  • 2-3 Emergency blankets

  • Flash Light (LED with good batteries as they have a long shelf-life)

  • Water Purification tablets or Straw (I recommend "lifestraw', very lightweight and filters 4000 liters of water)

  • 1 small wide-mouthed bottle of Gatorade (Can be used as a water bottle in combination with Water filtration straw)

  • Emergency food rations for 3 days min.

  • Pocket Knife

  • Rope or twine

  • Small first Aid kit + Polysporin (Topical antibiotic)

  • BBQ lighter (windproof and refillable if possible)

  • A couple boxes of weatherproof matches

  • Zip Fire Starting cubes

  • Small amount of cash

  • Copies of IDs

  • Trenching tool

  • Informational cards detailing skills

  • Small mirror

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Face masks

Of course there are any number of other great, very helpful, but optional equipment like flares, Leatherman multi-tools, emergency mini sleeping bags, compass, radios, hatchets, fully charged burner flip-phone and the like...

#2- Skills

So not nun-chuck skills, but the skill to improvise and adapt! Some great skills to have are:

  • Emergency shelter building - this can be done simply with rope or twine, an Emergency Thermal blanket and some rocks. Leaves, branches and even snow can be used as insulation.

  • Building a fire not only for heat and light, but to warm rocks to put under the soil underneath your shelter.

  • Tying knots

  • Basic First Aid

The Law of 3's

As a general rule, the principles of survival can be simplified to the "Law of 3's". Easy to remember, these guidelines help you prioritize your efforts in order to conserve your energy.

They are:

  • You can survive for 3 Minutes without air (oxygen) or in icy water

  • You can survive for 3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment (excluding icy water)

  • You can survive for 3 Days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment)

  • You can survive for 3 Weeks without food (if you have water and shelter)

So as you can see, if theirs not death gas eating up the oxygen supply (10,000 to 1 chance), then your first priority is shelter then water then food.

Take the time to prepare yourself and the kids. It will mean so much to your kids, and may even save lives!

Losers react. Winners anticipate... - Tony Robbins

Please look through the resources below, which I will be updating on occasion.

Shiny Things!

Ok- So this is a must see- This is "BattleBox" a true redneck American subscription box full of shiny and sharp survival gear. **No offense with the redneck comment, it's just the main ad for their stuff features four surly, axe-wielding biker-types in plaid in front of a giant American flag...

The quality of the products is fantastic especially for the price. I will be doing an entire post and video on this later, for now though, check it out for yourself- Seriously shiny!

Essential Emergency Food & Gear - Legacy Food Storage is hands-down the most reputable source for high-quality emergency food stuffs and SO much more, In fact, some of their products have a 25-year shelf life as opposed to the regular 5. They also have Non-GMO and Gluten Free emergency food rations!

Cold-Weather Clothing - Wildhorn Outfitters is the cold-weather clothing place to go! Again, quality is always better. For 25% off select products, hit the link above.