Gift ideas for safer New Year for your friends, your home

  • Fri Dec 16th, 2016 10:00pm
  • Life

By Dave Murnen

and Pat Beaty

Almost everyone has someone on their Christmas shopping list that is hard to buy for. It could be because they’re someone who has everything, someone who doesn’t want more “stuff,” someone you don’t know well or just some “universal” gift you need to purchase for a gift exchange.

Do we have some ideas for you!

Yes, we here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor aren’t typically in the business of giving advice for gift giving, but we have some ideas that fit right in with our goal to encourage home ownership and safe, affordable housing for all.

Last week we talked about how many folks derail their budgets at Christmastime. We gave some tips on how to avoid that. These gift suggestions vary in price and are mostly in the “practical but thoughtful” category.

Hmm…Maybe you’re the hard-to-buy- for person and you’ll see something here that you can add to your wish list. You may need to cut out the column and drop a hint to Santa!


Weather experts are predicted to be an especially cold and snowy winter this year. Keep that in mind as you take a look at these suggestions. We think these gifts express that you want your loved ones safe, warm and well in the New Year!

• An All Hazard Weather Radio. They can be purchased at local hardware stores, box stores and online and have a pricetag between $20 and $50. (Just 38 percent of households currently have one, according to information from the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management.)

• An “Emergency Kit.” You can make one yourself putting items into a backpack or a small travel bag. The kit can contain things such as energy bars, water, a radio, flashlight and light sticks and a first-aid kit. These kits can be kept in your car and home.

• A box containing an emergency three-day supply of food and water. Don’t forget to include their pets!

• A first-aid kit for either home or vehicle.

• A good quality fire box or fire safe to protect important financial and personal documents. Standard fire boxes run about $25. They also make ones now that protect against water.

• Battery-operated décor candles so that a loved one can obtain the ambiance of candlelight without the risk of fire.

• A carbon monoxide detector. These are helpful for any home that has some type of fossil fuel heating device such as a woodstove, fireplace, gas or oil furnace or kerosene space heater. They are true lifesavers.

• A “second floor” escape ladder. These collapsible contraptions fold up and out of the way until needed. They are available at local hardware stores or through a fire equipment supply company.

• An emergency blanket for the car.

• A flashlight and batteries or better yet, a wind-up flashlight (Even if they have one, another might be nice for the car or for a bedroom.)

• A gun safety lock for each gun.

• A gift certificate for a chimney maintenance/cleaning.

• A gift certificate from a local contractor to clean gutters and inspect the roof.

• A 5-pound ABC fire extinguisher for the kitchen or garage

• If you’re feeling really generous — how about getting someone started with a renter’s insurance policy? Many renters are unaware of the fact their contents are not covered by the building owner’s insurance. (Actually they are surprisingly inexpensive.)

• A waterless hand cleaner station. With the potential for a flu pandemic, these units are available locally at minimal cost and can be placed with Velcro right to a wall in your house or business. They are great in the car, too.

• Maybe someone you love is ready to make the switch to a safer artificial tree. Get one on sale for them this year with the promise of a safer Christmas next year.

• A pre-paid mobile phone

• Calling cards for loved ones who travel and don’t have cell phones.

• Light sticks

• A stocking stuffer could include a whistle to go on a key chain or perhaps in an emergency kit


Do you have a real Christmas tree? If so, make sure to give it a good drink today. Keeping it watered makes it last and lowers the risk of fire.


Did you know that NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor has a Facebook page? Take a look! We have helpful information and tips and it’s one way you can ask us questions about home maintenance, home buying, budgeting, renter-landlord issues, etc!


Find us on for all your homebuyer education needs.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County. They can be reached at 533-7828.