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fire extinguisher gauge

A few days ago, I was discussing Christmas preparations with a emergency-prep-conscious friend. As we were talking about what we were going to get members of our families, she mentioned that sometimes she feels like it’s a waste for her to give her adult children more stuff that they really don’t need. She wondered if I had any suggestions for ways to not add to their clutter and instead be beneficial.

First, I suggested that she give them experiences instead of stuff – like tickets to a live production, or to a movie, etc. She liked that idea – but then I suggested something that really took her by surprise.

“What if, instead you give them items to help them be more prepared for an emergency?”

She thought about the idea. Then she responded that she’d suggested to them before that they should get together a 72 hour kit, and they always said, “Ya, Mom, we know.” But that was as far as the conversation with them got. They never actually did anything about getting prepared. She was worried about them and their children if something were to happen before they got a round to working on getting prepared.

She and I started to brainstorm some things that she could give to them this year, and she was excited by the idea that hopefully this would jumpstart them toward making their own preparations. At the very least, every year she could add something else to their preparedness.

First of all, we talked about first aid kits. Most people have first aid stuff in our homes, like adhesive bandages and soothing ointments, but how many of us have a first aid kit in our car? That would be a great gift! To buy a pre-packaged first aid kit is only about $10-15, and would last for years.

Another great inexpensive gift would be a flashlight and batteries. Can you ever have too many flashlights? I think not. You should have one in your car as well as at home, in a desk drawer at work, in the garage, and wherever else you might be stuck when the power goes out. As for batteries….same thing goes: Can you ever have too many batteries? Nope.  Flashlights range in price, depending on how strong a light you want and other considerations. Types of batteries also vary with the type of flashlight.

What about a small fire extinguisher for the home? It can be stored in the kitchen – in an upper cupboard or beneath the sink – and be available quickly if there were a fire.

You might want to get them a backpack or two designated to store emergency supplies for in case they need to leave home quickly. Now that school is well underway, many areas have backpacks discounted.

Other ideas are water purification options, fuel and power, and food storage.

There are many other inexpensive but very useful things you could give someone to help them be more prepared. But these ideas don’t have to cost money. Some of the best ones only require a little time and effort.

Here’s one final idea that my sister did for my parents a few years ago, when their eyesight was starting to go, making them more dependent on others (which they justifiably hated). She compiled a listing of the people (and their phone numbers) they might need to call: relatives, doctors, pharmacy, friends, clergymen, etc. She typed the list up in a logical order, in very large print so that they could easily read the list and find the number they were looking for (without having to get out their trusty magnifying glass that they used when reading). Of course, the list printed that large takes up space, and theirs filled two sheets of paper. She laminated these back-to-back and gave it to my parents. I was there when they received it, and the look on their face showed what a meaningful gift it was – she had given them some independence back again. And we knew that if they needed any of those numbers, they could find them and read them.

A lot of us are looking at buying gifts this holiday season. Why not make at least some of the gifts you give something that will benefit the receiver long-term?

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