• Why You Should Use Essential Oils in Emergencies

    When Laurie Klem, of Goodland, Kan., leaves home, she carries 10 essential oils in her purse for emergencies. When she travels, she takes a dozen or more.

    Essential OilsKlem, who has been using essential oils for 19 years and teaches classes about them, said they have come in handy. One day her husband was having pain in his rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. She had peppermint oil that she carries for headaches.

    “I took three drops and spent a couple of minutes massaging it in,” she said. After a few minutes, his pain subsided.

    “He said, ‘Wow, I had no idea just straight peppermint worked that well.’ ”

    Now you can find essential oils here at Emergency Essentials.

    Here are a few that Klem keeps in her purse as a first aid kit.

     

    Lavender

    Essential Oils - Lavender“[Lavender] is at the top of the list as good for anything relating to the skin,” Klem said.

    A few years ago, she accidentally overturned a pot of boiling water on her arm.

    “I doused it with lavender oil,” she said. She feels multiple lavender oil treatments were the reason she has no scars on her arm.

    She also said it helps her relax. After all, many bath products contain lavender.

    “Lavender with Epsom salts (in a bath) is great for unwinding at the end of the day,” she said.

    A few cautions: Lavender essential oil can cause irritation if applied directly to the skin and is poisonous if swallowed, according to Homesteading, a 2009 book edited by Abigail Gehring.

    Elementa Essentials, the company that produces the essential oils sold here, recommends cutting most essential oils by putting 3-10 drops in an ounce of vegetable oil or lotion before applying it to skin.

    Klem said lavender oil is the one of the most common “faked” products on the market and recommended avoiding products with the word “scented” on their labels.

    “It’s not coming from the actual plant,” she said. “Scented equals fake.”

     

    Peppermint

    Essential Oils - Peppermint

    Klem uses peppermint essential oil for headaches, stomach aches, and muscle pain, as well as a decongestant.

    She used to dilute it and rub it on her children’s knees when they had growing pains. She joked that when she’d rub the oil on one of her children’s joints, “the next thing you know, everybody has growing pains.”

    A drop could also help soothe stomach pain. Klem believes a daily concoction of peppermint oil and lemon oil in water, in combination with a careful diet and healthy sleep habits, has kept her husband’s acid reflux under control.

    Peppermint oil has some of the most reliable evidence suggesting it could be effective for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome, according to a 2014 review in the journal Digestion.

    Don’t use too much, though. Peppermint oil is considered fairly safe in small doses but can have side effects of allergic reaction and heartburn, according to Homesteading.

     

    Lemon oil

    Essential Oils - Lemon“I hardly ever drink water without lemon oil,” Klem said. “When I’m traveling, especially, I always add it because it will help to neutralize impurities in the water.”

    Lemon oil is a natural cleanser. It contains d-limonene, a compound found in citrus peels that can help reduce some types of cell damage, according to a 2015 study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. D-limonene is used all over the place, from cooking to cleaning to cosmetics.

    D-limonene is safe but has a slight possibility of skin irritation when used in large amounts in cosmetics according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.

     

    Melaleuca

    Essential Oils - MelaleucaMelaleuca – or tea tree – is one of Klem’s “go-to” oils.

    It could have antibacterial and antifungal properties, she said, so her family uses it to treat cuts and athlete’s foot. Klem’s family runs a bison ranch, and she uses it to treat wounds on livestock.

    Elementa Essentials suggests using it in small amounts to clean skin and nails. Its strong smell might also work as an insect repellent.

     

    Rosemary

    essential oils - rosemary

    Klem finds rosemary a useful multipurpose oil.

    She puts it on her temples or forehead to help her concentrate. She also uses it for colds, dandruff, healthy hair, and headaches. When she has a migraine she applies it all around her scalp along the hairline. She says it could help heal a yeast infection, but recommends it only after consultation with an expert.

    Not all uses for rosemary may be entirely effective. Like this “Lotion for the Cure and Prevention of Baldness,” from a Victorian-era advice book, Enquire Within Upon Everything: Eau-de-Cologne, two ounces; tincture of cantharides, two drachms; oil of rosemary, oil of nutmeg, and oil of lavender, each ten drops. To be rubbed on the bald part of the head every night.

     

    Health Defense

    essential oils

    Health Defense is an oil blend sold here, and contains orange peel, cloves, cinnamon bark, lemon peel, rosemary and eucalyptus leaf. Klem said she uses a similar oil blend more than all of her other essential oils combined. She says her family members apply it or spray it in their throats at the first exposure to illness.

    “When winter starts, I try to have ten bottles of the stuff around,” she said.

    We suggest rubbing it onto wrists, misting it into the air and dabbing it in spots near food storage, door entryways, and campsites.

     

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says essential oils may be used in three different ways: internally as a dietary supplement, topically and aromatically.

    Elementa Essentials does not recommend using any of its products internally without a doctor’s approval. The same caveat applies if you’re pregnant, on medication, or have sensitive skin.

    It’s not a great idea to apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. Elementa Essentials recommends you put 3-10 drops in an ounce of vegetable oil or lotion. Klem said she sometimes dilutes with almond oil because it is thinner oil with smaller molecules that absorb more quickly into the bloodstream. Since children’s bodies respond more quickly to medicines, she prefers coconut oil for them because its molecules are larger and take longer to get into the bloodstream. She also uses olive oil, with an absorption rate between the other two oils.

    Aromatically means using a diffuser to spray a diluted oil mixture into a room. Diffusers are available at many online retailers, Klem said.

    No matter how she dispenses it, she uses very little oil at a time because it’s so potent.

    “All you need is one drop most of the time, for most things,” she said.

     

    - Melissa

     

    Do you use essential oils for emergencies? Is it something you would consider? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

     

    Other Sources

    Interview with Laurie Klem, 8/19/15

    Gehring, Abigail R. (2009-11-01). Homesteading: A Backyard Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More (Back to Basics Guides) (Kindle Locations 2-3). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Enquire Within Upon Everything: The Great Victorian Domestic Standby (Kindle Locations 8689-8691). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

    Posted In: Emergency Kits Tagged With: rosemary, lemon, lavender, peppermint, melaleuca, essential oils, health, emergency kit

  • 5 Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina

    Katrina Damage 01When Hurricane Katrina hit, nobody was ready for its destructiveness. Almost 10 million people were affected, more than a million evacuated, 1,800 were killed, and damage was estimated at $151 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Since the monster hurricane season of 2005, when Katrina and two other major hurricanes hit the United States, we have not seen one major hurricane. Even Hurricane Sandy, which did so much damage to the northeast in 2012, was only a category 1 hurricane, the weakest type. Does anyone think the lull will last?

    In addition to the emergency preparedness things you already do, here are a few additional preparations that Katrina taught are especially important in a hurricane-prone area (here’s looking at you, Florida).

     

    Keep a full gas tank, or a few.

    Katrina Gridlock

    When Sandy Whann, president of a New Orleans baking company, closed his plant ahead of Katrina and left New Orleans for Baton Rouge, he was surprised by the gridlock. A trip that normally took two hours took seven. Imagine if he’d run out of gas.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends you keep your car’s gas tank full if an evacuation is likely for your area and at least half full all the time.

    Even if you don’t live in a hurricane-prone area, be prepared for fuel shortages after a major hurricane. The Gulf Coast is a major center for processing oil. After Katrina, producers had to deal with broken equipment and devastated transportation infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in response, waived its requirement to use summer gasoline in all 50 states so there’d be enough fuel.

     

    Keep the sanitizers handy.

    After a hurricane, bleach and hand sanitizer are your best friends.

    Flood water is a gumbo of debris, chemicals, dead animals, waste from overflowing drains and untreated sewage. About 1,000 evacuees in Texas and Mississippi came down with diarrhea and vomiting in the weeks after Katrina, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reported many other illnesses.

    The CDC recommends you use hand sanitizer every time you contact flood water. Also sanitize any object that has touched flood water. That’s where bleach is your friend. One cup to every five gallons of water is sufficient to sanitize most things like undamaged food and water containers, toys and nonporous surfaces. Wood items and bottle nipples and pacifiers should be thrown out along with any food that may have been contaminated.

     

    Load up the fridge and freezer – with ice.

    The Food and Drug Administration says throw away any perishable food left at more than 40 degrees for more than two hours.

    An unopened fridge will keep food cold for only about four hours. A half-full, unopened freezer will keep food cold for about 24 hours. However, food in a packed, unopened freezer will stay cold for twice that long. So freeze water bottles and ice cubes to pack around freezer food.

    Before an emergency, find out where to buy dry ice. Fifty pounds will keep a fully stocked fridge cold for two days. During a power outage, keep the fridge and freezer closed.

     

    Be prepared to wait more than three days.

    Katrina and the Superdome - Texas Tribune via Texas Tribune

    When the Superdome general manager agreed to open the building as an emergency shelter, it was originally intended to hold fewer than 1,000 patients with special medical needs for about two days, according to a story in For the Win, a subsidiary of USA Today.

    It eventually held 30,000 people for almost a week and became a symbol of devastation.

    Debris, water, and destroyed transportation corridors kept food, medical supplies, and fuel from getting to New Orleans. Phone service, including 911, was almost nonexistent.

    “When roads are flooded, washed out, blocked by trees and power lines, etc., it takes a while to get them back in order. That means you need to be prepared to get by for at least a few days and, much better, at least a couple of weeks on your own,” wrote Glenn Reynolds, an editorial contributor to USA Today, in a piece about Katrina lessons.

     

    Have an emergency kit with contact information for each family member.

    According to Save the Children, more than 5,000 children were reported missing from their families after Katrina, some for months.

    FEMA recommends each family member carry a contact card with personal and family information. Save the Children has a free, printable emergency contact card. It includes a child’s name, age, home address and phone number, medical information and emergency contacts. The card fits in a child’s backpack or wallet. Teach children how to contact you and where to meet if you get separated.

    By the way, Florida, hope you were ready for Tropical Storm Erika. Be prepared for flooding as rain is forecast to continue. Be safe.

     

    - Melissa

     

    Hurricane Katrina

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: 10 years, katrina, hurricane katrina

  • Tropical Storm Erika is Coming. Are You Complacent?

    After 10 years without a hurricane in Florida, residents have lost interest in preparing. With tropical storm Erika traveling up towards Southern Florida, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - Path Tropical storm Erika's projected path

    Just yesterday it was thought that tropical storm Erika was expected to become a category 1 hurricane when it reached Florida, which means it would have wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour. That’s definitely enough to do quite a bit of damage. Today, however, the storm is not expected to reach hurricane strength. But that doesn't mean it won't bring strong winds and a lot of rain. As Erika passed the small Caribbean island of Dominica, it left over two dozen people dead in the wake of severe floods.

    The Orlando Sentinel reports that tropical storm Erika could find its way to South Florida by Monday morning, and if that happens, it “will be too late to start planning.”

    The lack of hurricanes for the last decade has instilled an air of “it can’t happen here, it will happen to someone else” within many of the people, according to Orlando Sentinel. For folks in Florida, the time to prepare is almost past. But there is still time.

    True, tropical storm Erika could still miss Florida and hit somewhere else, but if you were living there, would you want to wait and find out? By then it will be too late.

    Floridians, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - FloodingFor the rest of you readers out there, what have you become complacent about? Florida isn’t the only state to be effected by natural disasters. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and even winter storms can really make a mess of things. And then there’s job loss, stock market crash, and other economical disasters. These can be just as bad – or worse – than the natural ones.

    According to an in-depth study in regards to people’s emergency prep, a 2012 public safety survey suggested that “despite an increase in the number of disasters, too many Americans remain disturbingly complacent.” This complacency causes a failure to act in time to sufficiently prepare.

    Now it’s time to look deep into your soul and ask yourself, “Am I too complacent?” If you are, you can start preparing now. Turn over a new leaf, if you will. If you aren’t, then congratulations! You’re an inspiration to us all. If you’re not sure, then you may need to check your emergency preparations and make sure you have what you need. Even if you aren’t complacent, it’s still wise to check over your emergency prep every so often to make sure everything is still in good condition and ready to go should a disaster happen.

    In the past, perhaps you were able to “ride out” a storm or disaster. According to the University of Buffalo, this “can lead people to feel complacent when receiving emergency warnings.” Maybe the disaster wasn’t as bad as it was broadcast to be, or maybe you were just on the outskirts of the storm. Or, perhaps the local emergency services came in to save the day. A University of Newcastle scholar is afraid that people have become too reliant on emergency services. Such overreliance “leads to a disempowered society.”

    When disasters head our way, the last thing we want to be is disempowered. Take the steps now to be prepared, so when a stronger storm than you’ve seen comes, you will be the one in power, not the disaster.

    Tropical storm Erika - Vigilance Be vigilant to disasters, both seen and unseen

    Florida may not have had a hurricane in a decade, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Just because you haven’t been in the path of a tornado doesn’t mean you won’t. As the saying goes, we’re sitting on a railroad track and the train is coming. We just don’t know when it will reach us.

    Likewise, we’re all in the path of all sorts of disasters. We just don’t know when they will hit us. National Weather Service meteorologist Will Ulrich hopes that, “regardless of [Erika] or any tropical system, people already have a plan in place.”

    And that’s our hope, too. Regardless of the disasters approaching – now or in the future – we hope you will already be prepared.

     

    Have you ever wished you were more prepared than you were for a disaster? What was it like? Let us know in the comments below!

     

     

    Tropical storm Erika - Hurricane Page

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: economic, erika, tropical storm, preparation, Hurricane, disaster

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