Margie Carter
Margie Carter

Moving into the season for gift giving seems confusing in these uncertain times. On the one hand, we are all keen to be jolly, carry out holiday traditions and get into the spirit of giving. Yet, many of us are trying to create a new normal out of the lessons learned during the recent years of total abnormality for our lives. I’m a bit conflicted about “getting back to normal” being centered on shopping, let alone celebrations being built around consumerism. Still, after such a rough few years, it feels good to kick up our heels a bit in frivolity, and gift giving can have a sweetness to it, especially outside of an obligatory list of people to shop for. We not only have budgets to balance, but emotions. We need some distraction from all the calamity, while conscious another hardship is likely around the corner.

My gift-giving strategy this year is to get playful with the intersection of uncertainty and preparedness. I share these gift ideas as possibilities for you as well.

Emergency kits or “go bags”

To survive a disaster, you need to consider food and water, health and hygiene, light and heat, communication and power, tools and storage. You can purchase preassembled kits if time is short and you have a good bank account. You can wade through hundreds of commercial options, from tiny kits in a backpack to significant disaster resources in a duffle. Or you can customize a personalized starter kit, taking into account each person’s context, skills, resources, medical and comfort needs. Basic ideas can be found at http://www.seattle.gov/emergency-management/prepare.

Tools and tech/communication and power

Staying safe in the event of a devastating earthquake requires having an easy-to-use tool for utility shutoff and basic tools in the event of power loss, fire or the need to set up a temporary shelter. You’ll need a way to purify water, stay warm and communicate with others. Items like generators or satellite phones can be pricey but extremely useful. Fairly affordable items include portable battery or solar powered lights, portable solar panels to keep technology recharged, license free two-way radios, such as BTECH MURS-V-1. A terrific review of supplies can be found in The Best Emergency Preparedness Supplies for 2021 | Reviews by Wirecutter (nytimes.com). Choose something that makes sense for anyone on your gift list.

Literature for book worms

Perhaps you have a big reader in your life that might get motivated for emergency preparation by hunkering down with a book — history, science or fiction. Possible gifts might include: Sandi Doughton, “The Full Rip”; Thomas P Hopp, “The Great Seattle Earthquake”; Jon Mooallem, “This is Chance”; Peter Heller, “The Dog Stars”; Amanda Ripley, “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why”; Rebecca Solnit, “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster.” The Office of Emergency Management has a disaster book club and archives all the titles they’ve read to date, http://www.seattle.gov/emergency-management/prepare/disaster-book-club.

Items for Madison Park communication hub box

A small cadre of neighborhood volunteers has recently rebooted the work of supplying our MP emergency communication hub box, and we are still in need of a few items that would make a communication hub run smoothly. These include a couple of sturdy pop-up canopy tents, portable battery and solar powered lights. Donation of actual items or funds to purchase these would be great gifts for our community at large.

Gift of volunteering

Never forget that one of the greatest gifts one can offer is the gift of time. You could create a gift certificate for a certain number of hours or a particular emergency preparation project that would be of great help to a friend or family member. You might consider volunteering with any number of organizations that serve people living in emergency situations right now, such as homelessness, food insecurity, trauma from crime, violence, racism or poverty. Your MP Emergency Preparation Team would always welcome your gift of volunteer time.

Please contact one of us:

• Sarah Armstrong, saraharmstrong215@gmail.com

• Mary Beth McAteer: msimiele1@gmail.com

• Margie Carter: margiecarter@comcast.net