When I think about everything we use in a day to keep my child running right, I realized that my emergency kit needs an upgrade. There’s no way I can pack up the trampoline, the play tent, the weighted leopard, the swing, and yet I would defend each as entirely necessary on a daily basis. However, there are small things I can load up and store in one emergency backpack that could significantly improve my child’s quality of life, and the lives of the strangers we may be sharing shelter with in the event of a disaster.
My Bag of Basics
As you select items, keep in mind the need for them to be portable, i.e., they need to be carried on your person. If you have an older child, they can carry their own sensory tools and get weighted benefit.
- A deflated therapy ball and small hand pump. A [easyazon-link asin=”B001TZK5YG” locale=”us”]therapy ball[/easyazon-link] has perhaps the widest variety of uses. You can get sitting, gliding, rocking, bouncing, steamrolling and stretching, all on one device. They ship deflated, and never fold back together quite as well once they’ve been blown up. Get a new one and pack it in the package. [easyazon-link asin=”B000BCDR6Q” locale=”us”]Hand pumps[/easyazon-link], especially lightweight bicycle pumps are quite small. Just make sure before you pack it away in your kit that the pump and the ball valve are compatible.
- A bag of balloons. [easyazon-link asin=”B003BXO9HI” locale=”us”]Balloons[/easyazon-link] are very compact and a disposable mouth/motor/vision tool with a zillion possible uses. Pack a lot, they are small.
- A mouth or hand fidget on a lanyard. In an emergency, I want my child to be wearing it. I cannot be looking around for lost fidgets (for [easyazon-link asin=”B0058W7ABM” locale=”us”]mouth[/easyazon-link] or [easyazon-link asin=”B0019648V6″ locale=”us”]hand[/easyazon-link]) or have it wander off with another child.
- Glow stick/LED flashlight/whistle. These have oral ([easyazon-link asin=”B0001H2A8W” locale=”us”]whistle[/easyazon-link]) and visual ([easyazon-link asin=”B000OW58RY” locale=”us”]glow sticks[/easyazon-link], [easyazon-link asin=”B0011UIPIW” locale=”us”]LED flashlight[/easyazon-link]) input, on a [easyazon-link asin=”B0074LDSNE” locale=”us”]lanyard[/easyazon-link]. You may need to stop up the whistle if your child has trouble controlling this. Stopping up the whistle would allow air to get through, important for regulation, but would reduce the sound output to an already stressed survivors group.
- Touch item or replica. For many kids, this is the lovey that they have enjoyed for years. However, this same item may or may not be available in an emergency. While it seems that the world revolves around this item at home, your child may be more willing to latch on to any available lovey since there simply isn’t anything else. You can create a story around this lovey, your child, and the situation to make the new introduction go a little more smoothly.
- Solid perfume tin. My child is smell sensitive, and nothing about a natural disaster looks like it smells very good. Our brain does naturally tune out smells after constant exposure, but smell is one important way my son tunes in and tunes out. A [easyazon-link asin=”B0042ULWOC” locale=”us”]fragrance daub[/easyazon-link] on the back of the hand could become a comforting sensory touchstone, particularly if movement from place to place is required.
- Headphones, and an inexpensive MP3 player. My child listens to the same music tracks every night. Just two or three songs on an [easyazon-link asin=”B0047IITTK” locale=”us”]MP3 player[/easyazon-link] would make a world of difference toward making a strange, crowded and unfamiliar place feel more like home.
Keep in Mind
- In the event of a disaster, everyone’s system is having difficulty regulating.
- Be prepared to share the tools you packed. If you are in a shelter, and blowing up a therapy ball or balloon, every child in the room will gather. Take turns, start a game, and get them involved.
- Customize these ideas for your own child and together with his/her team.
- Keep it light. Those weighted things and single use items need to stay at home.
- Use whatever you have around. Blankets, sleeping mats, or your own body can be used in therapeutic ways.
- Trust your ability to solve the problem in creative ways. This is the time to think out of the box.