Note: I run this piece (slightly updated) every year. This year, I’ve added a great preparedness idea from a fellow blogger, Joel over at Preparedness And Response.
With the Holiday Season rapidly approaching, the question on everyone's mind is what to get as gifts for friends and relatives. And this year, for many of us, money is tight - making the decision even more difficult.
In recent years, I've begun to give preparedness gifts instead of gift boxes of unidentifiable cheese products and ugly neckties.
The great thing is, many of these items can be had for just a few dollars.
Three years ago I ran across a closeout on those shake flashlights. You know, the ones with the LED bulbs, that you shake for a minute and you get 10 or 15 minutes of light. No batteries needed. They normally sell for about $5 each, but these were just .77 cents at a closeout store.
I bought 40 of them, and gave all but two of them away.
A couple of years ago I ran across a deal on LED headlamps, and bought about 20 of them for $2 apiece. Hands free light can be a real plus in a crisis. These too ended up in a number of people's Christmas and birthday packs.
I bought my daughter a combination windup/battery/solar AM/FM/SW radio last Christmas. Under $40, and she loves it. Uses it every day.
Every home should have a battery operated radio, yet many do not.
A pair of the FRS radios, like the ones I highlighted in this blog, would make an excellent gift for many families, and can be had for less than $25.
For Christmas a couple of years back I put together some first aid kits, and distributed them to a number of friends and relatives. You can either put one together yourself, or purchase one already assembled.
During the year I keep my eye out for bargains such as these, and stock up when I find things on sale. Recently I picked up a number of LED lanterns for $3 apiece at a closeout store. They are particularly nice, and run about 40 hours on a set of AA batteries.
As promised, Joel over at Preparedness and Response came up with what I consider to be an excellent preparedness idea, giving USB flash drives to family and friends and instructions on how to back up their important papers and documents.
Inexpensive USB Drives start under $10.
He explains it in his essay Helping others prepare (Personal Preparedness), where he gives his rationale for going with the durable mil-spec and encrypted, but fairly pricey IronKey brand.
My thanks to Joel for a terrific idea.
And lastly, I've put together CD's of preparedness videos, along with copies of online manuals and preparedness guides. For the cost of a blank CD or DVD, and a little bit of my time, I've at least put this valuable information into my friend's hands.
I may just copy all of this info over the the USB drives I’m giving out this year instead of to CDs.
These are all useful, indeed, potentially lifesaving items, that most people simply don't think about needing until it is too late. Giving them as gifts, instead of more traditional items, not only helps prepare the people you love and care about for an emergency, it opens the door for conversations about pandemic preparedness.
We need to cultivate a culture of preparedness in this country, and around the world.
We can start doing that, one gift at a time.
And one last reminder for the Holiday Season.
This year, when we think about ways to give back to our community, remember that more people will be relying on community food banks than in years past.
In addition to anything else you might do, this is a good time to go through your pantry and donate foodstuffs that are approaching (but not exceeding) their `use by' date.