Winter storms arriving with blustery high winds through the Puget Sound region can be both nerve-wracking and a valuable opportunity to practice managing life without electrical power. How ready are you for this adventure? How ready are your out-of-household family members and friends?
Some folks want to go all-in with a generator, while others hope to get by with some candles and an extra propane tank for the grill. When you make a few purchases anticipating a power outage, you are on the road to preparing for an even more damaging emergency — the real possibility of a massive earthquake in our region, causing multiple disruptions with landslides and the collapse of buildings, roads, bridges and utility infrastructures.
Perhaps this reality will inspire some emergency-related gifts in this season when we aspire to be jolly, grateful and generous.
You don’t have to spend a lot, and you could take this emergency preparation into the realm of fun and creativity. If you do a small gift exchange among co-workers or family members, you could jazz up a package of Mylar emergency thermal blankets or hand and foot warmers, either disposable or rechargeable. The same goes for all manner of flashlights, lanterns or headlamps with batteries or USB rechargeable LED lights. Consider beanies/knit hats with built-in LED rechargeable lights, perhaps adding a creative touch with monograms or family names. You can get emergency radios that are rechargeable, or the good ole hand-crank version.
Our Madison Park Emergency Preparation Volunteer Team suggests you keep the “three W’s” in mind when planning for a majorly disruptive emergency: water, warmth, waste. How might you purchase a gift related to one or more of these categories?
Water is essential in an emergency and often challenging for households to figure out how to store enough safely. You need to plan for one gallon per person per day x 14 days and ? gallon per pet per day x 14 days. So, consider workable options. Another low-cost addition to your water supply is a small flexible hose to attach to your water heater; slightly more costly is a portable water filter system.
Warmth includes some of the items mentioned above, along with clothing, food and, of course, the warmth of communicating with loved ones. If children or pets are part of the household, what gift of reassurance and comfort might be included in an emergency kit? Perhaps a favorite stuffy, snack or book?
You could consider a gift among the variety of fire starters to aid in getting the warmth of a fire. Keep in mind the need to avoid another kind of fire starter — candles. Emergency responders report that in the aftershocks, chaos and stress of earthquakes, damaging house fires are often started by overturned or neglected candles.
What could be more fun than giving the gift of a way to manage human waste in an emergency? You can find examples of low-cost twin bucket emergency toilets designated for “pee and poo” at phlush.org. An alternate gift could be a portable camping toilet.
If your budget allows for spending a bit more, a shortwave radio can be used not only for communicating with others but can serve as an LED light, USB charger and radio. A solar battery charger set up can allow you to power all kinds of devices, along with lights, camp stoves and blankets.
Before you let your keyboard do your shopping, take your feet to our local Madison Park Hardware and see what ideas and stock they have or could possibly order for you. Owner Adam Hagan has been a faithful community member and terrific partner in Madison Park Emergency HUB development efforts. He deserves our support and is keen to be helpful.
Beyond buying things, remember your presence is always the best present you can give. You could even spend time helping your favorite folks to inventory or organize their emergency supplies. Sometimes side-by-side companionship makes all the difference for someone to take the next step in knowing how to prepare for and survive the next calamity around the bend.
If you want to get involved in any of the wider neighborhood work of emergency preparedness, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.