While the news may be a bit slow on this morning-before-Christmas, I'm fairly confident a few of my readers are still scrambling for last minute gift ideas, or stocking stuffers, for loved ones.
Each fall, during and just after National Preparedness Month, I make the case for buying preparedness items for holiday gift giving, with my most recent appeal in November (see Preparedness: Some Holiday Gift Items Worth Considering).
In that blog you’ll find both low cost `stocking stuffers’ along with some bigger ticket items like solar panels and FRS and crank radios.With time running short, and most of our wallets running thin, I thought I’d run through my list of my top under $20 preparedness gift ideas. Most should be easy to find on the shelves, even at this late date.
A good place to look are the sporting goods section of big box stores, in home improvement centers, or discount stores like Big Lots.
NOTE: Products mentioned here are to provide a general idea of the type of gift, and should not be viewed as an endorsement of one brand over another.Batteries, and battery chargers make terrific preparedness gifts. Just about everyone uses AA or AAA batteries, and you can either buy a decent quantity of disposable batteries, or go `green’ with a handful of rechargeable batteries and a charger for under $20.
When the lights go out, nothing beats having a couple of good LED flashlights or lanterns. And each year they get brighter, and cheaper. Most run between $5 and $10, and that beats the heck out of cursing the darkness.
A couple of years ago I bought several water filtration systems, one to keep and a couple to give to prepping buddies. LifeStraw ® is now available in the United States and Canada; at just 2 ounces, this personal water filter will reportedly filter 1000 liters down to .2 microns. Not bad for around $20.
I've also recently added the Sawyer Mini-Filter to my preps, again about $20.
Emergency cook stoves can be had for under $20. A 1 burner propane camp stove costs about $12, add a couple of 1 pound propane cylinders (about $3 each) and you can cook for a family for a week.
I also buy a few magnesium fire starters each year (at $4 each) which will end up as stocking stuffers.
Something as simple, and as utilitarian, as a multifunction `Swiss’ army knife or a `Multi-tool’ makes a great preparedness gifts.
For emergency electrical power, I found an 80 watt cigarette lighter inverter for my car. It can power a small laptop, and has a USB charger port as well. Under $20. A few of these will end up in the stockings of friends this year. .
And for under $10, you can pick up a cigarette lighter USB charger, that can top off your phone or mobile device.
Although you may have to look for a sale, I found this combination AM/FM Weather ALERT radio at a discount store for under $20 a few years ago. Every home and business should have an emergency alert radio.
Often forgotten, but safety goggles, a box of vinyl or nitrile gloves, or a box of facemasks (or N95 masks) should be in everyone’s emergency kit as well - particularly with concerns over a nasty flu season ahead.
While I can’t predict what the new year will bring - if it turns out anything like 2017- there's a pretty good chance that there are going to be plenty of people who will wish they had most – if not all – of these items on hand before the next disaster strikes.
Because, during any emergency, the advantage always goes to those who were prepared.