Prepare to Have Fun

Prepare to Have Fun

Kids can easily be frightened by power outages, storms and “emergency” situations that interrupt their daily routines. Once you know your family is safe and has provisions, sometimes there’s nothing to do but pass the time. Card games are a classic way to pass time by candlelight. Games let your children know that everything is okay while providing a diversion until bedtime or until things return to normal.

It helps to know the rules of some easy-to-learn basic card games in advance and have the cards stashed with your emergency supplies. We like games that use inexpensive, standard playing card decks. In case cards go missing or are damaged, they are easily replaced.

Hearts, Rummy, Eucher and Crazy Eights are just some of the classic games your family can play together to pass time and settle frightened kids. Here’s a link to the rules for more than a dozen classic and modern card games for a range of ages.

If your kids are old enough to be bored by the classics, try something different such as Pass the Trash, Egyptian Ratscrew or Spoons. If you’re playing betting games, use dried pasta or beans for chips. When the lights come back on the winner can exchange their “chips” for a special prize.

Some “emergencies” merely require waiting for the lights to come back on or the storm to pass. Diversions are important for mental health – in fact, we even include a deck of playing cards in our Essential Survival emergency kit!

Join us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us what your family’s favorite storm pastimes are. Our kids love Egyptian Ratscrew because there’s “slapping” as in Slapjack – and it’s fun to say! Here are the rules courtesy of

1 standard deck of cards with Jokers removed

  • Deal the cards evenly between 2 to 5 players.
  • Stack any remaining cards face-up in the middle of the table as bonus cards.
  • Players stack their cards facedown in front of them. No looking!
  • Starting to the left of the dealer, each player pulls one card from the top of his stack — without looking at it — and quickly lays it face-up on the pile.
  • When a player lays a face card on the pile, the next player must lay a face card on top of it. The number of tries he gets to play a face card depends on the face card played. For Jacks he gets only one try, for Queens two, for Kings three, and for Aces four.
  • If the player is able to play another face card, the problem of playing a face card moves to the next player. If he cannot, the player who put down the face card wins the stack.
  • The other way to win cards is by slapping. Whenever two cards of the same rank (number or face) are played consecutively, the first player to slap the pile and shout “RATSCREW!” wins the cards. Anyone at the table may slap the stack, even if they are out of cards.

The player who accumulates all the cards in his hand wins the game.

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