• What to Expect (or not) from El Nino

    Here’s a cheerful headline to brighten your week: “El Niño is Going to Make Your 2014 Miserable.” Thank you, salon.com, for the good news.

    Actually, 2014 is half over already, and it’s been a pretty fair six months for me, so I’m not getting too hand-wringy quite, yet. I am, however, interested to see what kinds of wacky weather the warm Pacific currents have in store.

    The trick about El Niño, as we were informed by the Weather Channel recently (see their article, “Hurricane Season 2014: 5 Things You Need to Know”), is that its effects are famously unpredictable. Even salon.com’s efforts to sound dire are compromised, as experts warn us that the year could be unusually wet or unusually dry…or, um, neither.

    “Regions across the U.S. that are normally wet can dry out during El Niño conditions, while normally dry regions can flood.” Worldwide expectations related to El Niño are not always accurate, however. “There is an expectation of drought, but not in every single El Niño event do we actually have drought,” Lisa Goddard, director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, said.

    Well, that certainly clears things up.

    Sounds to me like a good time to be prepared for any eventuality. So here are some articles to help get you set for whatever El Niño has in store for your area.

    Keep an eye on the skies, and let us know how El Niño is affecting you this year!

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: storm, Weather, el Nino

  • What makes Mountain House so Awesome?

    It’s no secret that here at Emergency Essentials, we love Mountain House food. Not only does Mountain House taste great, but it’s also perfect for emergencies or your everyday needs with great quality, selection, and shelf life.

    But you don’t have to take our word for it. The history of the Mountain House Company and their unique freeze-drying process help the product speak for itself.

    Here are six reasons why Mountain House is awesome:

    1. They’re perfect for long-term storage: Mountain House has been in business for 40+ years. They’ve perfected the art of freeze-drying and packaging freeze-dried meals for long-term storage. Their products have been scientifically proven to store for at least 25 years.

    2. Each meal uses fresh ingredients: Since Mountain House only uses fresh ingredients, the nutritional value, color, and texture of the food is preserved during the freeze drying process. This means that you can enjoy the same nutritional benefits you would from eating a fresh apple each time you bite into a Mountain House freeze-dried apple slice.

    3. Each meal has a home-cooked taste: Instead of freeze-drying each individual component in the meal and then packaging it all together, Mountain House prepares and cooks each meal before freeze-drying. To ensure optimal flavor and to enhance the quality of each meal, Mountain House adds noodles into the package after the freeze-drying process.

    As you add water to your meal, the noodles will cook in the same time it takes to reconstitute the other components, so you’ll have tender noodles to enjoy with each meal. This method of freeze-drying gives each Mountain House meal a home cooked taste that everyone enjoys.

    Added bonus: each meal is cooked by trained, professional chefs (no wonder it’s so good!)

    4. Each meal is quick and simple to prepare: The best thing about Mountain House meals is that they are easy to prepare. All you have to do is add hot water, wait 8-10 minutes, and voila, dinner is served.

    5. You can use Mountain House for more than just emergencies: Mountain House isn’t only good in emergencies, but it is also perfect for camping trips, a quick hot meal for when you don’t feel like cooking, and for preparing a quick meal for an ailing neighbor.

    Fun fact: Did you know? Mountain House’s parent company, Oregon Freeze-Dry began by selling freeze-dried meals to the military during the Vietnam War. Since 1968, Mountain House has been trusted to feed troops in every theater of combat.

    6. Mountain House is improving each day: Mountain House has a dedicated team of researchers that work each day to ensure that Mountain House foods taste great. They even have a sensory group that evaluates the taste, texture, and flavor of each meal to make sure that each product is high quality.

     

    Check out this video to learn more about Mountain House’s Research and development team and why Mountain House is just plain awesome:

    What do you love about Mountain House products? Let us know in the comments

     

    -Angela

     

    *Editor’s Note about the Image at the top of this post: Although this picture looks like Mountain House cans are stored in the garage, we do not recommend keeping your food storage in a garage for long-term storage. Fluctuations in temperature, odors, and other chemicals can lessen the quality (and longevity) of your food.

    For more info on studies about Mountain House, check out the results of this Oregon State University study on Mountain House products  http://safecastle.com/documents/OSU-Sensory-Report.pdf

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage, mountain house, sale

  • California's Fire Season

    During the few years I spent down in Orange County, CA, I didn’t so much miss the seasons, but I just had to get used to a different set of seasons. Fog season. High surf season. Ugg boots season. And fire season.

    If you’ve never lived through a summer-to-fall in Southern California, it’s hard to describe the brittle dryness of the air; the hot, dusty Santa Ana winds; the sinister orange tint of the sky; or the sharp burn in your throat as ash settles like cottonwood on cars and lawns. Wildfire season is unpleasant at best, and downright scary for those who live in the driest swaths. And California’s worst dry spell in recorded history is making that danger a reality for more and more residents.

    In mid-June, this report surfaced: “California Wildfire Threatens 1,000 More Homes Near Sequoia National Park.” While no injuries or fatalities were logged in relation to this fire, it swallowed three homes and was very hard to contain. Turns out the combination of heat, wind, and acres of brush sucked dry as tinder is exactly what a fire like this needed to grow to disastrous proportions.

    We’ve been watching California’s fires particularly closely this year. For a re-cap, check out our previous posts, “California Wildfires Spread Due to Drought Conditions,” and “Wildfires Plague Southern California.” And whether or not you live within blaze territory, it’s smart to know your wildfire safety. Here are some of our favorite resources:

    • FEMA’s US Fire Administration page has all sorts of free, downloadable materials on wildfire awareness and preparation.
    • We really like Ready.gov’s tip list for what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
    • The Wildfire Preparedness page from the American Red Cross is organized similarly, and includes guidelines on rebuilding after fire damage.
    • Readyforwildfire.org has fantastic interactive information, video tutorials, links to action plan and emergency kit checklists, and a live Twitter feed from Cal Fire.
    • Everybody’s favorite furry forest ranger, Smokey the Bear, has a whole tab full of games and teaching tools for children and families at SmokeyBear.com/kids.

     

    What are you doing during the dry season to prepare?

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Current Events, Fire Safety, wildfire, fire season, Preparedness In The News

  • Salmonella: The Outbreak that Just won't Quit

    Over the last couple of months, we’ve been warned about possible outbreaks of measles and MERS; norovirus on cruise ships and at resorts; and strains of Ebola spreading through Africa and worrying health officials. So, this headline should make us all feel better:

    U.S. salmonella outbreak widens, 574 now sick from Foster Farms chicken

    Yeah, remember that salmonella scare from last March? Turns out that hasn’t actually ended yet. At the end of May, the outbreak was still rampant. Fortunately, the year-long outbreak hasn’t resulted in any fatalities, but that doesn’t make me any less wary about the disease—especially this particular strain, which is proving resistant to drugs and increasingly leading to blood infections.

    An AP article, “5 Things to Know About Salmonella in Chicken,” outlines the current situation (including an explanation of why the CDC doesn’t seem to be able to get this in hand), describes the symptoms, and reminds us of the number one preventative practice: cook your chicken.

    And, not to pile it on here, but did you know that chicken is not the only carrier of salmonella? According to the CDC, just about any raw dairy, meat, fruit, or veggies can be contaminated; so can water sources that come into contact with human or animal waste, as well as certain domestic animals themselves. In fact, an info sheet from Utah’s Bureau of Epidemiology reports “Utah as well as the rest of the U.S. has seen an increase in Salmonella infection as the result of increased ownerships of exotic animal species such as reptiles.”

    Okay, yuck!

    So, besides sealing myself in an anti-septic bubble for the rest of my life, what can I do? The CDC’s “Salmonella Prevention” page has a comprehensive list of tips to keep from contracting the bug (my favorite: “Don't work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant [e.g., feed, change diaper, etc.] at the same time.” I mean, I know we moms gotta multitask, but really?).

    Another helpful resource is “How to Prevent a Salmonella Infection,” from about-salmonella.com. And if you’re worried about your own water sources (either at home or on the trail), read through our article, “Making Water Drinkable: Ways to Filter and Purify Water You Have on Hand.”

     

    Be prepared to stay healthy, and jump into the discussion here to share your best prevention tips!

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: First Aid, Current Events, health and wellness, health

  • Tornadoes In Gold Country

    California can’t seem to catch a break this year! From droughts to floods, the Golden State and Mother Nature are going through an especially rocky patch… but tornadoes?!

    Believe it or not, the last days of March saw a handful of tornadoes touch down in Northern California, damaging as many as 20 homes, according to an AP report. Thankfully, no injuries or displacements were reported, but residents are learning hard lessons about expecting the unexpected.

    According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, and their super-cool maps, tornadoes are relatively uncommon along the West Coast. "The tornadoes which do occur,” explains a lead meteorologist from the Weather Channel in the report above, “are created by systems coming off the Pacific and are generally much weaker than those experienced by the Plains.”

    While California’s twisters may not be the same caliber as those that plagued the Midwest last year, residents whose roofs and fences will have to be replaced—or those who watched barbeque grills and other debris rain down on their property!—are still feeling the shake-up of disaster narrowly avoided.

    At the beginning of March, we re-posted an article from the archives--“How to Prepare for a Tornado”--which includes a fantastic video tutorial series from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for preparedness “before,” “during,” and “after” tornado. The article also includes links to other helpful resources, like our blog post “Tornado Preparedness” and FEMA’s “Developing an Emergency Response Plan for Tornadoes.”

    The lesson we keep learning over and over again is there’s no perfectly safe set of circumstances—no region and no season is free from the threat of natural disasters. However we may classify our risk, we’re all better off if we’re prepared.

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • Veggies on the Fire Escape: Starting your Small-Space Garden

    As I sat down to write this post, my four-year-old expressed some interest in what I was doing. I explained that some people don’t have grandmas with lots and lots of land where they can plant gardens (like my four-year-old does). Some people don’t even have backyards. So where, I asked him, do you think those people could plant gardens?

    “They could build a planter box. And put it in their bedroom.”

    Um, sure.

    But assuming your bedroom doesn’t get a full six hours of sunlight (or that you don’t want your tomato pots draining onto your carpet) is there a solution for yard-less would-be gardeners? You bet, says BuzzFeed’s Rachel Sanders, in her aptly named article, “How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on Your Fire Escape.”

    Sanders’ article takes small-space gardening to the next level, telling us where to put and how to arrange those containers, as well as what and when to plant for maximum yield. Divided into 17 handy tips, her list includes considerations that commonly get overlooked—everything from “does my landlord allow plants on the balcony?” to keeping mint from staging a hostile takeover of your property. (Heads-up: she also talks about squirrel-proofing your garden, which accounts for the naughty word in the article.)

    Not yet convinced that there’s such thing as an urban green thumb? We’ve written here before about container gardening and ideas for re-purposing junk as garden real estate.

    And here are a few more resources that will have you fairly running to your nearest home and garden store.

    Before you start your fire escape garden, make sure that it is legal to do so in your city. Several cities have fire codes and laws prohibiting fire escape gardening.

    Whether your backyard looks more like Green Acres or Eva Gabor’s beloved penthouse view, you can grow a lovely and tasty garden this season!

    -Stacey

    Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening, gardening tips

  •  Lost in the woods? Find your way using these unbelievable navigating tools

    A recent article from the UK’s Daily Mail leads off with a common has-this-ever-happened-to-you scenario:

    “What started out as a bracing country walk has degenerated into a grim ordeal.

    “You are in the middle of nowhere, it’s bucketing down and visibility is shrinking. You had been heading west towards the setting sun, but now you have no clue where you are.

    “Your smarty-pants mobile phone has neither a signal nor battery power.

    “It never occurred to you to pack a compass, and now you have no idea in which direction to walk. What do you do? Shout for help? Flip a coin? Start arguing about whose stupid idea this was?”

    All those seem like viable courses of action to me. However, the article—intriguingly titled “Lost? Forget Google maps.  Follow the butterflies and satellite dishes”—preaches a better way.

    It seems that one Tristan Gooley, a former travel agent and lifelong explorer/adventurer, has compiled something close to 1,000 commonly overlooked clues provided by nature to answer everything from “Which way is north?” to “Will it rain today?” to “How far into the Arctic Ocean have I drifted and when will I see land again?” (Cause you never know when you’ll need that one.)

    Gooley, who has written four books on the subject and teaches courses and seminars to survival experts, bases his information on both ancient wisdom and practical experience. As a sample, he explains that rusty orange patches on tree bark is a moisture-loving algae—an info nugget that could help determine north in the situation described above. As a Brit, a few of Gooley’s tips are a tad regionally specific (gorse bushes and wandering flocks of sheep are scarce in my area, for example), but the principle is important.

    Check out more of Gooley’s Tips by reading the UK’s Daily Mail article.

     

    Part of preparedness is having the right gear on hand. But another big part is having the know-how to survive if you find yourself without the gear. Do you think you could? What are your best tips for finding your way, sans compass?

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • As we've just stepped into summertime, we want to make all your barbecues, camping adventures, and other activities fantastic. What better way to do that (and celebrate the warm weather) than to offer a Volcano Collapsible Stove Combo...for FREE! Just take the quiz below to learn a little bit about the Volcano Collapsible Stove Combo and you'll automatically be entered to win!

    Entries accepted until June 30, 2014, 11:59 pm MST. Winner will be chosen within the following week. Official rules available within the contest quiz.

    For Mobile users, follow this link to take the quiz:

    http://bit.ly/1qnCY2L

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: giveaway, giveaways and contest, free

  • Did you know tornadoes can come in pairs?

    The Instagram photo below shows the devastation that occurred on Monday, June 16th when twin tornadoes touched down in Pilger, Nebraska. At least 70% of the town was heavily damaged or destroyed. Twin tornadoes are very rare and very dangerous.

    twin tornadoes touch down in Nebraska

    Photo Courtesy of WeatherChannel.com

    According to the Weather Channel’s severe weather expert Dr. Greg Postel, “the twister was on the ground for more than an hour . . . And storm chasers in the area described the damage as ‘catastrophic.’” Two people died as a result of the storm—one a 5-year-old girl, and the other a resident from a nearby county four miles east of Pilger. At least 19 people were injured.

    Officials evacuated residents and took them to a Red Cross shelter in Omaha, Nebraska. Once evacuated, Governor Dave Henieman declared a state of emergency, calling the National Guard into the area to begin recovery efforts.

    To learn more about the recent twin twisters in Nebraska, check out these articles from the Weather Channel and CNN:

    Pilger, Nebraska takes Heavy Hit from Tornado . . .

    Twin Tornadoes Tear through Nebraska Town . . .

    To learn more about tornado preparedness and what you can do before, during, and after a tornado, check out our Insight article, Preparing for a Tornado.

    We send heartfelt wishes of recovery to the residents of Pilger, Nebraska, and the surrounding areas.

    --Angela

     

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disaster, Current Events, Preparedness In The News

  • Pet Prep in the News Again

    Most of us know that more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina almost nine years ago. What we may not know are the circumstances surrounding each individual casualty. For example, Fox News reports that more than sixty of those 1,800 people perished because they wouldn’t leave their pets behind.

    But casualty counts like the one above only tally up human victims. According to one estimate made by Marty Pagliughi, Director of Emergency Management for Cape May County, New Jersey, something like 100,000 household pets were lost in the flooding and destruction of Katrina.

    The Fox News article, “Beachside County Builds Hurricane Shelter to Save Pets, Encourage Evacuations,” is the second pet-related story I’ve come across in the last month or so (read the first, “Is Your Pet Safe?” an inspiring story of a former firefighter turned emergency pet rescuer).

    This recent Fox News article involves a county office in New Jersey that saw a problem to be solved in the numbers reported above. As the report puts it, “officials realized the absence of pet-friendly shelters was putting their residents in potentially life-threatening situations.”

    Cape May County’s solution? Dedicated mobile shelters equipped with power, water, heat, air conditioning, and space for 120 animals. The county currently has two of these facilities available and operating, and stations them near existing emergency shelters so owners can be near their pets.

    Other cities are recognizing the same need and putting facilities and programs in place. And in case you missed the previous pet post, here are a handful of helpful resources for your own emergency pet prep:

     

     

    Do you know what your city or county has available for its four-legged residents? What steps have you taken to ensure your pets’ safety in an emergency?

     

    -Stacey

    Editors note: Error in the statement in the first paragraph. More than 18,000 people did not die in Hurricane Katrina. The statement has been corrected to say "more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina."

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: pet preparedness, Current Events, Preparedness In The News

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