> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Reader Question: Starting w/ a family of 6



Reader Question: Starting w/ a family of 6

Here's a comment that came in on my post from last week about premade survival kits (not a fan). Wanted to pass it along to the tribe.

So just what would you gentleman suggest go into a kit for a family of 6? I have 4 kids 10 f, 6 m, 5 m, & 1 f. Hubby works out of state mon - fri. And I live in small town hell. My kids are accident prone so I have a montster first aid kit and we camp so I have some general camping gear but i am otherwise at a loss... Help please?

- Munchkin Momma

A few quick thoughts. 

  • Get a firearm and some training. With papa bear far away, Momma is going to have to deal with any goblins on her own. 
  • Food storage and several means to cook it. Propane camp stove, wood stove, firepit in the backyard, solar oven, etc. Keep some of it in a big bin that can be tossed in the back of the SUV/van if needed in a hurry. Shoot for two weeks worth of food and then go from there.
  • Store some water. With 6 people, I'd shoot for around 80 gallons of water, 40 if you're crunched for space. More is better.
  • Flashlights, headlamps and extra batteries
  • Some emergency candles - check out our DIY instructional if you're crafty.
  • Make sure each kid has a decent sleeping bag.
  • Store some extra gasoline.
  • Figure out if you have friends/family in the region who you could use as a fallback point if your home was compromised. Discuss this with them, and make sure you & husband have everything clearly planned out in case communications are out.
What are your ideas/thoughts/suggestions?


  1. This seems like a very thoughtful response because it does not overwhelm. You've covered the basics and she can expand from there. Thumbs up to this post.

  2. The families preps are situational and location dependent. It's going to be hard, if not impossible to bug out with a 1yo baby in the mix. Best to plan to stay where you are and plan to keep what ya got til things cool down. Your location may also lead to possible natural disasters that may destroy you home. Fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquake, flood, nuke plant meltdown..... These situations and environmental conditions need to be considered.

    Start with getting 3 days food and water, then expand from there. Flashlights, batteries, solar battery chargers, camp stoves and fuel, candles, efficient headlamps, kerosene/oil lamps, weather radio and a means of defending your property are things to consider getting.

    1. "It's going to be hard, if not impossible to bug out with a 1yo baby in the mix. Best to plan to stay where you are and plan to keep what ya got til things cool down."

      I think it's important to prepare for as many different types of situations as possible. One can't say what's "best" because of the rapidly changing dynamics involved in emergency situations. The key is to be prepared for every contingency, to the best of your abilities. If the situation arises where Munchkin Momma is forced to leave her home, she will. With that in mind, I believe she should make preparations to do so, the important part being, to the best of her ability.

      The bullet list of items given are all excellent and cover all the basics. Food, water, fire, shelter, first aid, tools and weapons. I would suggest adding a radio to the list.

      Maybe her preparations for being on the go are simply storing those items in storage tubs that she can quickly pack into the car.

      I would suggest coordinating with Mr. Munchkin about pre-planned destinations so they can re-connect even if communications are down.

  3. Seems like a good list. Getting some kind of firearm should be a pretty high priority. Exactly what kind of firearm is totally up to you--all guns have some both considerable pros and cons. With kids I'd suggest a pistol and a mechanical button safe: http://www.amazon.com/V-Line-Draw-Security-Case-Black/dp/B000T24OFG/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=7I6O64JD12SH&coliid=I1IZKVYHOUJV97 All mechanical means no dead batteries or unreliable electronics. But again weapon choice is always up for debate.

  4. Agree with above comments. Planning is critical - agree that bugging in is most practical, with vehicle based bug out (? to where hubby is?) as plan b. Also be aware that you might need to gather kids from school and get them back to the homestead, so have that planned. And share plans with hubby in case comms are down.

    But just having some food, water, lights and med kit will put you well ahead of the curve. Also some non-electic based entertainments for them - cards and board games etc. might help keep your sanity.

  5. Good basic list. With hubby away, you need to preplan as much as possible for a potential bug out.

    - If I have to go NOW, what do I take (bug out bag)
    - If I have 30 minutes what do I take next (documents, computer files, memorabilia, extra clothes, water, etc)
    - If I have an hour what do I take next (extra fuel, even more clothes, food, shelter provisions, etc)
    - If I have two hours, etc. You get the idea.

    Personally I have these packing checklists already prepared and hanging on the garage wall.

    Preplan how you will communicate this with hubby. We have pre-arranged text messages (texts will often work when cellphones are down due to the lower bandwidth required) "Level 1" means house occupants have left to first location. "Level 5" means we're headed to our pre-determined out of state location. We also leave notification in a specific location on the exterior of the house. You wouldn't know what it was unless you know the code.

    A fallback means of communication would be nice. Used ham radios are inexpensive and the license is easy to get anymore.

    Practice. The kids will love it.

  6. The article and comments cover things well. I'd add that with 6 kids you might want to think about adults that could come over and help out at your house if there was an emergency. Looking at stuff to store away, I'd start with stuff you know you'll use away, toilet paper, toothpaste, and flashlights, might be good places to start.

  7. JinxedSydneyOctober 02, 2012

    Munchkin Momma~
    You have a great diversity of age in your 4 kids. There is no blanket "this will work" because each of your kiddos have different personalities. Whatever you do, don't go buy pre-made BOB's or bug-out-bags. Start with the list above and go from there. Some days, you'll be able to work on your list; some days not so much. If one or more of your kids like reading, start looking at books for them to read that have to do with kids in the wilderness; it'll start their minds towards that end. Start with your water and food storage if you can't/don't want to go for a gun first. Get your two weeks and then keep building. No mom EVER wants to see a kid starve to death or die of dehydration. You don't have to stick with canned foods or MRE's; pick food that you and your kids will eat.

    I agree with practice. You know your kids. Is one prone to "freaking out" if you yourself are panicked? If you practice and they know the drill or you talk about how they need to sit and wait for you, it is one less thing to have to think about if you have to leave or have to load up to leave.

    Maybe you can teach your 10 y/o to start fires with a striker. Bet she tends to be the second mom and could be useful as your "2nd in command" if needed. Depending on your boys' personalities, you can teach them compass directions by making a backyard scavenger hunt. Then, up the stakes and have them take the family on a hike. If that isn't up their alley, cooking is always helpful.

  8. I definitely concur on the lists of basics - good call.

    a couple other thoughts: 10 and 6 (and maybe 5) are not too early to start teaching useful skills. Show them how to help in the kitchen. Teach the "off hand on the back of the knife" technique, and you have a crew of 'prep chefs' to help you cook, and if they cut up the veggies, they're more likely to eat them. Give them plastic cutlery if you feel you must, but if they feel trusted with something not 'dumbed-down', they may react well to it and learn better. Their schools seem to think that they can't even be trusted with forks and spoons. Show them they are.

    Rather than always saving up for some big prep purchase, consider just spending an extra buck or two, every time you go to the store. A couple cans of beans, some first aid supplies, a jar of spices, a case of ramen - you choose. It adds up quickly to quite a well-prepped pantry.

    Just don't give up because you cannot have "Burt Gummer"'s bunker in a month :)


    I would move to the state where hubby is Monday thru Friday.

    Just saying....

    1. It's not always practical. A good idea, if it is.

      An example: I live in fairly-rural VA. The company I work for is headquartered in the DC-suburbs of Maryland, about 3 hours away. ( I work from home). If I had to live within 1-hour striking distance of the HQ office, rent on an equivalent place would be approx.-tripled, up-front purchase cost on a equivalent place would be more-than-quadrupled.

      I get less concrete, and I actually get to eat, too :)


      Right. If the specifics of the individual family dictate, then there is no choice.

      But if at ALL possible, be close.

      It is generally more desirable to live 'in the middle' all together. Then the whole can bug out together. If the big gun is way far away, then the everyday problems, threats and prowlers have easier access to family. Even if the family is tucked away in the hideout. This could be an everyday problem BEFORE the balloon goes up.

      But like my family, each group has to do a good-better-best assessment, then act on what works best for them.


  10. Keep some cash at home. Far more times you will need a few bucks than a 'bug out location'. Just about everybody can at least pull $300 out of their savings account and keep it at home.

  11. A few words of caution about the guns and kids:
    5 and 6 are not too young to learn the basics of shooting and gun safety. If they're going to know that you have guns in the house, or if there's even a small possibility that they'll find them if you hide them, teach them. I'm sick of hearing about kids in my community who've died, or killed one of their friends, because one of them brought out a gun and they treated it like a toy. If you're going to have guns in the house with children, they need to have the fear of God in them that these things are not toys.
    My parents and my husband's parents treated this matter two different ways. I knew what kind of hell would come down on me if I poked around my parents' room, so my dad felt comfortable hiding his guns until he was ready to teach me to shoot (around age 12). My husband's family hunts, though, and they knew he'd be around guns. He started learning at age 5 or 6 so that there was no mystery around guns, and so that he knew exactly what kind of hell his parents would raise if he was ever stupid around guns. From talking with friends, those seem to be the two main approaches that most (responsible) parents with guns have chosen.
    Also, one more word of caution. There is a strong correlation between women who buy guns as protection and those same women dying by gun violence. (I say this as a woman sitting maybe 60 feet from a gun in my own house.) So just be careful. I don't know what your situation is, but be careful.

    1. Sister X -

      Do you have any source for that correlation between women who own guns/death of gun violence? Even were it true, there's a variety of reasons why you could see a correlation - chance, those women being targets of violent males, etc.

      Don't count on concealment for keeping guns out of your kids hands. They WILL find it...heck, parents struggle to keep Christmas presents hidden.

      Secure your firearms, educate & expose your kids to them - remove the mystery & make sure they understand the seriousness and destructive potential.

  12. It is virtually impossible to always secure a gun. Policemen have had their children get the guns and shoot a toddler brother or sister. In my opinion; having no gun in a house with children is safer then having a gun. My advice is if you feel unsafe where you live then move. Mom shouldn't have to pack a gun to protect herself and her kids. I own guns and I have one within easy reach but I no longer have children.