Practical gifts may not be at the top of every wish list, but some of the best gifts are those you never knew you needed.
As you wrap up your holiday shopping, think about giving the gift of safety. From emergencies to everyday hazards, these practical gifts will keep your friends and family healthy and safe:
In case of emergency:
- Emergency preparedness kit: After Hurricane Harvey, Houstonians learned valuable lessons about essential survival supplies. Buying the list of recommended supplies can add up quickly. Starter kits like this one from the American Red Cross are available from a variety of retailers and online.
- NOAA crank weather radio: When the power goes out, when the batteries die, when the roads are still impassable, a crank radio can keep you connected to the outside world. Check out this review of the best crank radios of 2017.
- Portable power bank/charger: Your phone or device battery is on red, but you’re nowhere near an outlet. These portable power banks can rescue and charge your devices when you’re on the go. Read this techradar.com review of the 12 Best of power banks of 2017.
- Roadside safety kit: Jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge and much more — a car emergency kit is a must-have for anyone who gets behind the wheel, especially new drivers. Whether you assemble a kit or purchase a pre-made kit, your recipient will thank you for helping them prepare for unexpected road hazards. Read this Consumer Reports article for suggestions on what to include in a roadside safety kit.
- Vehicle escape tool: The warnings are familiar: “Turn around, don’t drown.” Still, high water accidents claim lives every year. A vehicle escape tool helps you safely break car windows and cut seatbelts in an emergency. Watch this video from Houston Police Department about how to use this tool to escape a submerged vehicle.
See and be seen:
- LED flashlight/head lamp: When was the last time you checked your flashlights? Even with a fresh set of batteries, flashlights lose power over time, and you never know when you will need one. Flashlight technology has evolved: LED flashlights are brighter, longer lasting, inexpensive and come in a variety of styles. Popular Mechanics ranked the eight best flashlights for everyday use. Need a hands-free option? Check out the five best headlamps of 2017 from thebigoutside.com.
- Reflective apparel: If you like to stay in shape or unwind with an early morning run, an evening walk or bike ride, you have to be seen to be safe. Consumer Reports estimates that cars kill nearly 5,000 pedestrians a year, predominantly after the sun sets. Check out this Consumer Reports video for reviews on effective reflective clothing.
- Night light: You don’t have to be afraid of the dark to need a night light. Slips, trips and falls are more likely to happen in the dark. From decorative and seasonal to motion-detected and practical, night lights make a fun and affordable gift for all ages.
Gifts for kids or new parents:
- Child-proofing supplies: Do you have a new parent or grandparent on your shopping list? From the moment babies start crawling, they are always getting into something. Take a look at a few child-proofing supply recommendations from Parents Magazine.
- Bike helmet or pads: If Santa is bringing a new a bicycle this year, make sure a new helmet is also under the tree. Cyclists of all ages need helmets, and kids outgrow them year to year. If you’re getting back into cycling after a few years, your old helmet might need to be replaced. The safety materials degrade over time. Always replace a helmet after a severe accident or collision. bikeradar.com gives detailed guide on finding the right size and type of helmet.
Safety at home:
- Food thermometer: Giving food poisoning to your guests is no way to spread holiday cheer. Take the guesswork out of food safety by giving your favorite chef a new food thermometer. Learn what to look for from the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.
- Heavy duty oven mitts/pot holders: Arguably the least glamorous of gift suggestions, but you only have to burn yourself once on the stove, oven or grill to see the value of high quality heat protection. Thewirecutter.com offered these recommendations after testing 15 oven mitts.
- Stepping stool: Admit it, you’ve stood on a chair to change a light bulb or reach the top shelf. That will do in a pinch, but it’s not ideal. Chairs are made for sitting, but stepping stools are designed to help you safely reach new heights.
- Reaching tool: Reaching/grabbing tools can be helpful to anyone, but they are especially handy for people with arthritis or limited mobility. This Huffington Post consumer review offers suggestions on what to look for and where to find them.
- Password manager: In the digital age, the average consumer juggles at least a dozen online logins, and remembering those passwords can be tricky and tiresome. Password managers are apps and online subscription-based services, usually in the form of a browser plug-in that create, store and sync all your online passwords to all your devices. Purchasing a subscription for your family is a small gesture that can save time, money and identity. PC Magazine has a detailed chart of two dozen password managers and their differences.
Photos are intended as visual aids, not an endorsement of specific products.