Walk and talk with your children. Ask them questions that simulate survival scenarios for children.
Survival Scenarios for Children
Let me start off by saying, I'm not asking you to drop your children off in a forest, with only a knife to see if they survive.
I am asking you to talk with them, ask them questions and to get them thinking.
Turn it into a Game
Make it fun to think. Give them a quiz.
I like to get settled in at a restaurant or movie theater, then after a short while, spring a quiz on my kids.
"How many exits are there from this room/building?"
"Where are the exits from this room/building?"
Since I don't do it every time, they aren't sure when they need to know the answers, so now they know they need to be ready to answer these questions at random times.
What does the winner get? A "Great job!" followed by a high-five.
Make Them Think
Ask your kids lots of "What if" or "How would you" questions, come up with some creative survival scenarios for children and brainstorm together, as a family.
We were shopping at Ikea this week and we came to a room display that had a real window, about 8 feet tall, starting at the floor level. This window was overlooking a 3 story drop to the parking lot below. There was nothing there to break a fall except hard, unforgiving blacktop.
Being the secret agent-ninja that I am (Ha), I was already trying to figure out what I'd do if I had to go out that window, so I decided to outsource this dilemma to my daughters.
"Ok, ladies, if this building was on fire, and our only escape was this window, what would you guys do?"
The brain wheels went wild.
"We could take those curtains and the blankets from that bed and tie them together, like a rope and use that to get down."
I was pretty impressed, but that was probably the same plan I would use, but there was still a problem that I hadn't solved.
What would I secure the makeshift rope to, so that a full grown man, like me could get down.
"What would you tie the rope to so we could all climb down", I asked.
My 8 year old didn't bat an eye. She pointed to the open, industrial ceiling, and there at about 9 feet high was a thick steel beam. "We'd tie it to that!"
Crap, I didn't even see that. Not to be outdone, "Who's going to knot all these fabrics together to fashion this rope?", I inquired.
The 8 year old and 6 year old answered in unison "Sarah".
Sarah, is my 7 year old knot master. If it's a knot, she can tie it. If it's in a knot, she can untie it. You're trapped at a picnic without plates? Give her 15 seconds and she'll weave some plates for you out of grass and then fashion some sticks and weeds together into a rudimentary lathe, for good measure.
They had me, there was no arguing about the knots, it would be Sarah.
By playing these games and creating these imaginary scenarios, they are learning and coming up with amazing ideas. Even if they come up with a terrible plan, it's better than no plan at all.
You need to also take some of this a step further and do some home safety drills. Have fire drills, tornado drills, earthquake drills, car jacking and burglar alarm or home invasion drills.
Make sure your entire family knows the plan, the secret code words and the meeting places. Ensure that you explain the what and why you are doing these things, and make them routine, make them fun and offer rewards and praise for a job well done.
Teach them how to call 911, make sure they have important contact numbers memorized.
By discussing, practicing and brainstorming about survival scenarios for children you'll sharpen their minds and hopefully this will make them more likely to come up with a plan, instead of falling into panic and freezing up if the unexpected happens.
Also take the time to teach them fun stuff, take them bowling, canoeing, back yard camping, hiking or to do activities that they enjoy. They are kids you know ;-)