With many of us spending more time with our children than ever before over the last five months, it’s fair to say for many parents it has been a real eye-opener. While our children have acquired several skills kids simply wouldn’t have learnt 10 to 15 years ago, there are a number of techniques they simply have no appreciation of.
A number of these are core ‘survival tips’ – if your child got lost, or if the end of the world truly did come through climate breakdown, would they know how to stay safe?
Amanda Greenfield, Director of children’s outdoor play company BeBop has shared her top tips to help your kids prepare for the unpredictable future that lies ahead.
1) Finding clean drinking water
We cannot survive without water. The most important tip to teach your children is that water always flows downhill. The most obvious bet is finding streams, rivers and lakes, especially at the bottom of valleys. Animals also often know where clean water is, so encourage your children to look for animal tracks leading to water sources. It’s wise to teach your child to only drink flowing water also, as still, stagnant water has a much higher risk of contamination.
2) Reading the sky for directions, time and approaching bad weather
Familiarise your child with the iterations of the sky, and what they mean throughout the day, such as measuring the time through the position of the sun, and hints of approaching storms. Tracking of the sun throughout the day can also be used to identify East and West, and once learnt will be vital in aiding in directions.
3) Administering basic first aid
It’s surprising how few children are taught the basics on how to stop bleeding, one of the most important aspects of administering first aid in an emergency situation. Teach your child the three aspects if they are faced with bleeding; covering the wound with a gauze or cloth, applying direct pressure to stop the blood and not removing the cloth. The cloth will help clots in the blood to form which prevents the flow.
4) Building a fire
Making a fire is great fun and also a crucial survival skill. Firstly, take time to teach your child on the basics of fire; oxygen, heat and fuel. Then, work together on how to make a spark, using two sharp pieces of flint to create sparks. You can also use glass or a mirror to reflect light from the sun to create condensed heat.
Next, introduce a fuel such as dry grass, paper or cardboard. It’s really important to ensure the less dense fuel that burns such as twigs and thin paper is kept at the bottom of the fire. Not only will this ensure a safer fire, but it will last longer and generally burn more effectively.
As we all know fires can be very dangerous. Be careful when your child is practising using a lighter or matches. Always ensure fires are built away from trees or other flammable objects, and are built in a suitable, well ventilated and non-enclosed space.
5) Identifying useful plants
While there are many edible plants, teaching your children the ones that certainly shouldn’t be eaten is perhaps most important. Think about familiarising yourself with the look of the Deadly and Woody nightshade plants and flowers. If ingested they are very poisonous. It’s not just whether a plant can be consumed that’s important, think about the herbal benefits of lavender, aloe vera and dock leaves, that are natural antiseptics.
6) Finding appropriate shelter
Finding appropriate shelter is key as it ensures you are protected from rain and wildlife. This can be obtained by elevating your bed off the ground and finding coverage from trees and caves.
7) Climbing trees
Climbing trees can be a really important survival tactic outside, both to gain fruit, shelter or to protect yourself from things on the ground. The most important aspect to learn when climbing trees is the safety; ensuring the tree branches are not rotten or in danger of not holding your child’s weight. Trees that are rotten display signs of leaf discolouration, irregular bark and obvious signs of decay.