Snow can come in picturesque flurries or road-closing blizzards. Cold can make hot cocoa a welcome treat or lead to frostbite.
If you live in Wisconsin, you need to be ready for whatever winter throws at you. David Maack, emergency management coordinator for Racine County, sent out this list of the top 10 emergency preparedness gifts.
No matter who's on your gift list, one of these should fit the bill. And if they give you a funny look, you've got the best explanation ever: I care and want you to be safe.
1. Emergency Weather Radio
A NOAA weather radio is like having your own emergency siren in your home. It is one of the best ways to protect your family in the case of a disaster. Emergency radios are a 24-hour source of weather forecasts, watches, warnings and other emergency information. You can purchase emergency radios for around $30 at most electronic stores, hardware stores and even neighborhood drug stores. “Weather radios should be as common as smoke detectors,” commented David Maack, Racine County Emergency Management Coordinator, “Therefore we urge you to put this at the top of your list. It is a practical gift that will be used for years to come.”
2. Winter Weather Survival Kit
Everyone should carry a winter survival kit in their vehicle. In an emergency it could save your life and the lives of your passengers. It should include:
- windshield scraper and small broom
- flashlight with extra batteries
- snack food including energy bars and raisins
- matches and small candles
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- first aid kit with pocket knife
- blankets or sleeping bag
- road salt, sand or cat litter for traction
- booster cables
- emergency flares and reflectors
- fluorescent distress flag and a whistle to attract attention
You can make your own kit or purchase kits at hardware stores and online retailers. And remember, each of these items makes a great “stocking stuffer”.
3. Cell Phone Adapter
“Murphy’s Law”…the moment you need to use your cell phone to make an emergency call is the moment you have no power left in your battery. Giving someone a cell phone adapter to plug into a car cigarette lighter receptacle is a great way to say you care. Or better yet, consider getting an emergency charger for the cell phone. There are several different types out there including a hand cranked version.
4. Home Emergency Kit
In an emergency, basic services (electricity, gas, water, etc.) may be cut off for days or even weeks. You may be stuck in your home during that time or evacuated at a moment’s notice. You probably won’t have time to shop or search for the supplies you need. That’s why it is important to have your own fully-stocked disaster kit ready. The kit should include items like:
- non-perishable food that doesn’t need electricity for storage or preparation
- flashlights with extra batteries
- first aid kit
- pet supplies
5. Enrollment in a CPR or First-Aid Class
Call your local American Red Cross or American Heart Association chapter to find a class near you or your loved ones.
6. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Many people know that smoke detectors save lives in a fire. But did you know that carbon monoxides can save you from the "silent killer". Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can be generated by improper ventilation of furnaces, generators and other devices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, with more than 20,000 people visiting the emergency room and nearly 500 killed each year from overexposure to the gas. Wisconsin requires both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in most homes.
7. Fire extinguishers
Give one for the kitchen, another for the garage, a third to keep in your car.
8. Foldable ladder
Keep near a second-story window for quick escape in a fire
9. Pet Disaster Kits
Your pets will need food and water in a disaster just like you. Leashes and a carrying case or crate for safer transportation and housing during a disaster are also a good idea.
10. Battery Powered Lamps
Not only great for camping but perfect in an emergency when the power goes out and you need a lot of light.
And one more idea! As you gather with family and friends this holiday take a few minutes to discuss what they will do in the case of an emergency or disaster. This includes developing a simple family communications plan and identifying how you would get in touch with loved ones and where you might meet if you are separated when an emergency or disaster takes place.