In the last post, I talked about giving Christmas gifts that were a hands-on experience. You took the time to put needed items together for a particular experience and then either printed instructions on their use or worked with the recipient to show them how learn the skill.
Want other very frugal but valuable gift ideas that might one day help the recipient stay safe? Let's look at some thoughtful gifts that take only YOUR own time and YOUR knowledge to assemble. These should make you feel good to give if you know the recipient should have these emergency preparations but likely will never put forth the effort.
#1. Maps for emergencies
When a disaster (tornado, flood, rail-car explosion, etc.) happens near your home or across your region, you need to know where to go and the best alternate routes to take to get there. Even if your giftee has a good GPS system, the device is not programmed to consider hazards to avoid, etc.
Let's start with a local map. Most chambers of commerce or some real estate agencies will provide one or two of these for free. Use your local knowledge to mark routes from your giftee's house that do not have to cross railroad tracks or notorious flood-prone areas. Use a different color of highlighter to mark hospitals and buildings that are designated emergency shelters. Say your friend or family member is out shopping on a hot August day and the tornado sirens go off. Would he or she know the nearest safe shelter when there is no time to drive home to the basement?
If your city is large enough to have an emergency management director, call that office to ask if they have maps with public shelters marked already. If not, ask if you can come by and have someone mark up a map with you. (You will be learning valuable information for yourself if you did not already know all of the locations to mark on the map.)
Of course, to mark alternate routes for each major direction, you need to know what larger highway system you want to hook up to. We've all seen the pictures of interstate highways clogged and not moving an inch. Secure a state map and examine reliable but alternate routes to highlight. Do you know where the recipient would choose to go if home was not inhabitable? Mark those spots and routes.
You might place these maps in plastic "sheet protectors" for durability. And perhaps include those in a binder you label as Emergency Info.
#2. Emergency Contacts
This are sheets you create to provide phone numbers and email addresses for a variety of entities such as all local utility providers, poison control 800 numbers, Red Cross, etc.
If you know family members of the giftee or that person's close friends, you can start a hard copy of numbers to reach those people. Because Murphy's Law tells us just when you need to call Uncle Jake in Idaho, your cell phone is dead and you cannot find his number. (You could still call to say you are on your way for an emergency visit if you can borrow someone else's phone or use a land line once you are at a safe place.)
Put these lists in sheet protectors and add to the binder containing the maps.
#3. Other Emergency Printables
You can find another dozen (at least) helpful sheets to print out from online sources. After all, you have these sheets in YOUR emergency binder, don't you? Review several versions of a list of documents to include and choose the best to print out for your giftee.
Don't forget things like a "Family Communications Sheet for Kids" from FEMA.
Here's a link to the FEMA site to print that out:
OR, here is a fold-able card from ready.gov (an excellent source of further info) that has ID, contacts family emergency meet-up info:
If you have more money than time, the next post will provide ideas on survival gear you can afford at almost any level of spending. And how to create a "theme" survival gift.