It’s possible to build an emergency kit on a budget, said Maralin Hoff, nicknamed the “Earthquake Lady,” from the Division of Emergency Management in the Utah Department of Public Safety “We think an emergency kit is going to cost an arm and a leg. No. It’s a shoestring. It’s that easy,” she said. If you’re looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, emergency kit supplies can make great stocking stuffers. “I’ve started a new tradition. Every Christmas, I give my children and grandchildren … something new to add to their emergency kit,” Hoff said at a 2010 emergency preparedness expo shown on YouTube. That’s how Shelly Robertson, of American Fork, Utah, built her emergency kit. “Really, it’s all about having a budget,” she said, adding that she asks for emergency supplies for Christmas gifts. At the emergency preparedness expo, Hoff showed emergency kits built almost entirely of items from dollar stores. Robertson found small bottles of medicines like acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, glow sticks, trash bags, hand sanitizer, and travel size toiletries at the dollar store. Dollar whistles are useful gifts, Hoff said. They’re louder than shouting. “Every [emergency] kit should have a whistle,” she said. Robertson looked for Christmas sales for more expensive items. For example, she found mess kits on sale at a recreation outlet store. She found many items discounted during Emergency Essentials’ Black Friday and December sales. There, she bought an emergency radio that she loves at a discount. “I highly recommend it,” she said. “The most expensive thing was the radio. Everything else was $5 or less.” Among her $5 or less purchases: Emergency reflective sleeping bags. She prefers them to emergency blankets because there aren’t edges to deal with. She also loves our New Millennium energy bars because she wants lightweight emergency food her children will eat. “They taste kind of like cookies,” she said. Hard candies: she says they’re nice for when children are sick. Flashlights and batteries. She puts fresh batteries in every year and uses the old ones. A $5 cook stove with heating tablets. She thinks that was a gift. “Mostly, just take a look around at what you already own, then buy a few specialty items,” she said. “There’s a lot you can pick up for very cheap, on a very limited budget. Think about what you need, and what you can substitute for it, and just go for it.” What emergency items are you getting (or hoping to get) for Christmas?