My children started school last week, so we are already getting back into the swing of early mornings and backpack packing. Lunch box. Snack. Art supplies. Books. Water bottle. Hand sanitizer. Mask. Check on all the above!
Of course, I don’t want to weigh down my kiddos’ backpacks more than they already are with the seemingly endless list of school supplies. But there are a few things you may want to consider to keep your kids safe at school, especially if there is ever an emergency situation. From tornadoes to water main breaks, disasters can occur at school with little or no warning, and children are often more vulnerable than adults in these kinds of situations. But back-to-school time is a great time to reinforce the importance of personal safety with your kids, and perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity to add a few items to help protect your kids in an emergency. (Keep in mind that these products may make good classroom donations or teacher gifts as well!)
Small, compact, functional and versatile, a tactical flashlight is a great addition to a child’s backpack. I personally love the kind with a lanyard so each of my kids can grab his or her flashlight and wear it, staying hands-free, if needed. Steer away from the cheap, plastic kinds. Instead, look for a slim, reliable and durable flashlight — such as the Streamlight MicroStream USB-rechargeable flashlight — that can help keep kids safe if there’s ever a need to illuminate a dark area. You can also teach your kids how to use a tactical flashlight to distract or even fight against a threat.
All three of my kids — from the first grader through the college freshman — carry a ballistic panel from BulletSafe in their backpacks. This lightweight, 10-inch by 14-inch panel slips inside their bags and offers NIJ level IIIA protection. In a worst-case scenario, the backpack can be put on (facing the front or the back), or the panel can be carried by itself.
Children are usually not allowed to carry any medications with them at school, but it may be helpful to have some first-aid basics such as alcohol swabs, gauze pads and bandages. Teach your kids about what to use for different injuries. Let them help fit everything in a small pouch or container so they’ll know the location of every item and its use. And if they’re old enough, train your kids on how to use a tourniquet and include one in their kit. The SWAT-T is very compact and easy to use, and it can serve as a pressure dressing, an all-purpose wrap or a tourniquet. It’s also fantastic if your kids can take some first-aid courses. But let’s face it: Kids at school are more likely just going to have to face some hurt feelings now and then.
My kids don’t have smartphones, but those who do can activate an app like Life 360 for family safety and tracking. There are also a bunch of wearable GPS trackers you can equip your kids with and plenty of price ranges as well. Just be sure to check out the options to find what you are most interested in. For instance, some trackers include the ability to create geo-fenced safe zones, alert emergency services or receive alerts if it detects that the wearer has suffered an injury. Any of these GPS trackers can be helpful in times of emergencies, especially if family members have been separated. Just be sure your family has talked about a plan to contact one another and reunite at a decided location as soon as it is safe to do so.
It’s important that your kids have identification and contact information with them in case of an emergency. They can certainly memorize their own address and phone number, but stress or injury could necessitate a little additional assistance. For this, kids can easily carry an inexpensive card, keychain or even bracelet that specifies contact information and other important details like allergies or medications. I also like the Shoe ID from Road ID. The engraved, stainless-steel panel provides important emergency information, and the high-visibility stripe can help keep kids visible. Better yet, the $20 accessory simply attaches to any shoe with laces, so it’s something they should have with them at all times.
About Beth Alcazar
Boasting several training certifications including TWAW, SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute and I.C.E. Training, Beth Alcazar is enthusiastic about safe and responsible firearms ownership. She has nearly two decades in the firearms industry and is a Certified Training Instructor and Senior Training Counselor for the USCCA and Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for the NRA. The associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth also uses her experience and degrees in language arts, education and communication management to author Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals.