May Day with Kids

The term May Day / mayday can bring a couple of different thoughts to mind. May Day, the holiday has long been associated with a spring festival or International Workers’ Day.

The other, Mayday, originally from the French m’aider (“come help me”), is an internationally recognized distress signal.

When we’ve got kids, having a family-recognizable signal can be very useful in a number of circumstances. If you’re out in a store and something’s not quite right, your kids can quickly and effectively be discretely alerted and know they have to follow directions immediately for their safety.

Do you have a special phrase/word you use in case of emergencies with your children or loved ones? If so, without sharing the phrase/word here, when would your children or loved ones use it? How did you come up with it?


We taught our kids to operate in Condition Yellow at an early age and to use their intuition and critical thinking skills. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. This early training and drilling is what probably resulted in our boy being the only one of his little group who didn’t get diddled by the pedophile priest that had been assigned to our area. Another handy skill that helped with that was teaching our kids personal resilience, to be able to resist peer pressure and to be able to resist going with the herd. (Again, all about the critical thinking skills.) Our kids are also enrolled in jujitsu. One of my proudest moments was watching our five year old put down a 6’2" 200 lb. man as part of his purple belt demonstration. We taught them manners, too. That’s probably the most conspicuous difference between our kids and others kids. We don’t have code words, and we encourage our kids to speak up and say what’s on their minds. We have drilled emergency scenarios. Every member of our family knows his or her rolls, and our primary, secondary, and tertiary muster points should the SHTF.


My parents set up a “family signal” after a kidnapping/murder in our area when I was young. It isn’t a one way alert in our case. The signal can be given by anyone in the family to put the rest of us on alert. I have continued the practice with my own kids.

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Yes. Yes we do.
Code phrases, SHTF plans for a various scenarios, rally points, assigned duties, backup comms, all the above.
The kids get tired of the drills & my wife thinks I’m paranoid but it does make me sleep better knowing that my family has a plan.
And a backup plan. And an emergency backup plan, secondary emergency backup plan, reserve backup plan etc…
As my wife tells our friends, my backup plans have backup plans.
While I don’t pretend to have thought of every possible variation of an emergency event we have enough options thought out that I’m confident we can make it through a catastrophe.