The wisdom of seventh graders: The emergency survival kit


As a precursor to reading a story about survival, seventh grade students were asked to come up with a list of things they would want to have in their emergency survival kit. Students were specifically instructed to limit themselves to things that were readily available (so no Apache helicopters), and the complete kit had to be something you could comfortably carry in a student backpack.

As always, there are students who chose a very sensible collection of things to put in their emergency survival kit: water purification tablets, a flashlight (with batteries), a first-aid kit. Those students are not the subject of today's story.

Here are some of the more unusual items some students chose to put in their emergency survival kit:

September is National Preparedness Month.

Comments (15)
  1. Mr Cranky says:

    Maybe he meant dehydrated water.

  2. steven says:

    The kid just really, REALLY wants his bath.

  3. 12BitSlab says:

    I would go with the helicopter — even though it is not handy — as well as the 50 cheeseburgers and call it a day.

  4. JM says:

    The one that confounds me is the puppy. Is it like the colored pencils and the Gameboy, so you have something to play with? Presumably it wasn't the intention to use the puppy as a hunting dog. Or food, for that matter… The puppy does meet the criterion of fitting in a backpack, although presumably you wouldn't actually leave it there.

    My emergency survival kit just contains my tablet. Not the water purification kind, the electronic kind. With it I can contact the outside world for help and browse the Internet while waiting for said help. Of course, I might end up somewhere where there's no reception for a mobile network, but in that case, life has surely stopped being worthwhile anyway. I shall read the remainder of my e-books and go quietly into that good night.

  5. sevenacids says:

    This list doesn't surprise me at all. It's a result of the (civilized) world we're living in today. We're at such an advanced technological level that we don't care for basic knowledge like how to survive without a grocery store or how to make a fire without a match or lighter. Knowledge that was established over thousands of years, it's getting more and more forgotten because we think we don't need it anymore, and therefore assume it's no longer important to teach to our kids. We depend on technology, our gadgets, McD, and 24/7 instead. Who needs purification tablets or a knife in the backback?

    I'm not that old but I still remember the time when I went to school during the mid-90s and there were no cell phones and the web was just about to take-off. Now when a look at people today, I'm a bit surprised (sometimes shocked) tell me they couldn't manage to live without their phone or the internet for one day or a week. Gosh, I don't wanna know the hell that would brake loose if there were no GPS or network for 24h.

  6. Roger says:

    I'd be happy to blame the water thing on not using the metric system.  When you do use the metric system it is trivial to convert water into volumes/dimensions and weights (all involve multiples of 10).  The backward system used in the US (and one other country) makes it way harder.

  7. Mirinth says:

    @sevenacids: Teaching kids isn't free. Time is limited. If you want to teach them how to survive in the wilderness, then you're going to have to sacrifice something less important instead. So what are kids learning today that's less important to their happiness and well-being than wilderness survival?

    @Roger: The imperial system does a pretty good job making it trivial to convert gallons to volume, in my opinion.

  8. Nick says:

    Roger: 1 gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. "A pint's a pound the world around." An ounce of water takes up one fluid ounce of volume. It has everything to do with a kid thinking a tap is infinite and not thinking of putting 50 milk jugs into his backpack.

  9. Amita says:

    @ JM:

    > Of course, I might end up somewhere where there's no reception for a mobile network, but in that case, life has surely stopped being worthwhile anyway.

    Given how many people ended up calling emergency services after FaceBook had an outage, that is *barely* satire…

  10. Dave Liney says:

    @Nick: Only in the same sense as the "World Series". A pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter outside of the US.

  11. Brian_EE says:

    @Dave Liney: Actually the phrase used to be accurate. Prior to 1824, England had a "wine gallon" that was equal to today's US Gallon (which is the gallon used on the American continents).

  12. cheong00 says:

    I wonder why there's no chocolate / snack bar in the list. It's a valid choice of emergency food that provides you energy to perform whatever survival task you're facing.

    I guess kids in these days are taught not to eat sweet food.

    Some generic drugs like aspirin pills would be helpful in case you may have difficulty to find a doctor in serious disaster. If you got hurt badly on the way to escape, fever can kill.

  13. cheong00 says:

    Also, I wonder if they still teach people to put plastic sheets in their survival kit. Plastic sheets are very useful in surviving a in the wild.

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