If you are looking for a gift that will have lasting value, consider putting emergency kits together for your grandchildren for Christmas. Include a note that tells them to eat the goodies in it every six months and you'll guarantee that it at least it will see the light of day twice a year.
Watch for backpacks or small rolling upright bags on sale. Populate them with the basic supplies needed in any emergency kit. Let their parents add the clothing and favorite foods. Of course, it is ok and expected, that the grandparents will add the candy and goodies to the kit.
Put laminated name tags on each of them. The information should include the child's name, address, parents names and contact information and the name and telephone number of an out of state contact.
In the bottom of the bag, include a laminated color photo of the family of your grandchildren with the family names, address, contact information and out of state contact information on the back. In a major disaster, small children often become separated from their families and the photo and information will help emergency workers reunite the children with their families.
You'll want to keep the photo buried deep so that it won't be easily stolen by people for nefarious purposes.
Which bag should you choose?
It all depends. Small children can't carry much weight. When you add the weight of a little food, a change of clothing, book or game and some water, it can easily exceed their ability to carry the kit.
Consider purchasing a smaller rolling bag instead of a back pack for younger folks. The advantage is that they can put the weight of the pack on the ground rather than on their shoulders as experienced with a back pack. The disadvantage is the rolling wheels and bag frame are more difficult to carry, even with rolling packs that have shoulder straps.
Lastly, ask the parents who is going to carry the water for the family. Water weighs about 8.5 pounds per gallon. The rule of thumb for emergency water storage is one gallon per-person-per-day for drinking and incidental uses. Thus the 72-hour kits for a family of four includes about 100 pounds of water.
Even athletic young fathers, can't carry 100 pounds of water for the family in addition to their own pack and probably the packs of a child or two for very long. This fact alone will probably push you to purchase the rolling bags so the children can carry at least some of their own water.
From personal experience, we know that three and four-year-old grandchildren can easily handle rolling bags that weigh up to 40 pounds. The weight of the pack is on the ground and they only have to handle a pound or two in their small hands as they navigate their bags on their escape route.
This year, tell your grandchildren "Merry Christmas" with a gift of lasting love.
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