Keep your gift recipient safe after the holidays

Struggling to find a gift for that hard-to-buy-for loved one?

How about looking for something to help keep that person safe?

You might pick one of the suggestions of local safety experts, or use their ideas as a springboard to come up with your own.

Assistant Fire Marshal Larry Mueller, of the Rochester Fire Department, said there are many safety-related gifts to choose from.

For example, Mueller said, you could pack an emergency kit for your loved one's car, something to toss under the seats for that "just-in-case" situation we all think will never happen … until it does.


Include in the kit: a couple of candy bars, a beverage or a way to melt snow for water, blankets, a warning device such as an orange flag, a collapsable snow shovel (to dig out an exhaust pipe to allow the engine to warm the car periodically), mittens and hats. It's the kind of gift you hope will never be needed. But if it is, it could save a life.

Olmsted Medical Center physical therapist Elizabeth Draper suggested gifts to help prevent falls.

Devices like tips for walking canes, to stabilize them on slippery surfaces, and ice cleats or "Yaktrax" can help prevent falls.

Fire extinguishers, Mueller said, are always an excellent gift. Make sure they're labeled as "ABC" — which are best suited for fires that occur in the home environment — and "UL listed."

"A lot of the new agents leave little or no residue," Mueller said. One example is the called a "clean-agent extinguisher" and is generally smaller and portable.

Other good protective gifts include carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors — and replacement batteries for ones already installed. Detectors have a lifespan of about 7 to 10 years and should be replaced after that.

For a parent or grandparent, Mueller said, consider getting safety latches to prevent youngsters getting access to household chemicals that can cause accidental poisoning. There are magnetic door latches and other kinds of latches that can be used to prevent a stove burner from being turned on by a young child.

In the kitchen, Draper said, non-skid rugs might be a good gift for someone who has throw rugs that easily slide out from underfoot.


Or, consider giving shoes with gripping treads or well-fitting slippers with a full heel cup and nonskid soles.

Draper also suggests YMCA gift certificates to classes like the "Silver Sneakers" program to help aging relatives build strength, balance, flexibility and range of motion.

The Rochester Senior Center also offers exercise programs, as do area fitness centers.

Fitness equipment bought locally can often be delivered, with billing submitted for possible insurance coverage.

Draper suggests the website as a good place to get safety-related gift ideas. She also suggests gifts such as senior-exercise DVDs, nightlights or electric can or jar openers for loved ones who are elderly or living with arthritis.

Secure-mount grab bars for the shower and an accessibility-designed heightened toilet seat are extra ideas.

Mueller suggests a Life Alert-type notification system as a gift for elderly relatives or a cellphone that can easily be carried around.

For your kids away at college with bedrooms on a second floor, consider an escape ladder that can be unrolled from an upstairs window. (Just make sure it's long enough to reach the ground or get near to ground level, Mueller said.)


Other good safety-related gifts for kids, he said, include helmets for roller blading and bike riding, and LED or flameless candles.

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