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  • Importance of Preparedness: Remembering September 11, 2001

    A month before the September 11, 2001 attack, I snapped a photo in the restaurant atop World Trade Center 2. It was a sign by the elevator, indicating the floor we were on and a notice: “In case of fire, use stairs.”

    I was there celebrating the end of an internship in the World Financial Center building directly across the street. My fellow intern and I found the sign hilarious. If something went wrong and we were that high, we agreed, there was no point in obeying. We’d be dead anyway.

    trade-center september 11A month later, I watched on TV from my new job in a rural U.S. Army base while planes hit both World Trade Center buildings.

    I emailed my former employer. Everyone was fine. The company had an evacuation plan, and as soon as the first plane hit, all but essential personnel left and caught a ferry to the company’s New Jersey headquarters. Everyone made it safely out of the area, though the building sustained heavy damage. (I saw a picture. My former desk was covered in grime, and the windows were blown in.)

    On the other hand, if a terrorist had attacked the rural base where I was on September 11, we could have been in trouble. The front gate had a toll booth-style guard building that was wide open. It might as well have been. Barbed wire fences marked the base’s perimeter in the sparse shrub and dirt wilderness. They kept cows out, but not much else. Admittedly, any attacker would have had to travel a long way to find anyone to attack.

    When we left the base that day, we followed directions through a ditch, past the newly-closed gate and newly-armed guards. An enormous machine gun now pointed menacingly outward, except … it was mounted on what looked like a folding card table. My absurd mental image of what would have happened if they’d fired it was the one funny part of a terrible day.

    That day, an emergency plan protected my former coworkers. At my new job, well, we were remote.

    September is National Preparedness Month. This, in conjunction with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, is a great time to remember why to be prepared.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency gives two reasons to be prepared.

    First, “being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters,” a FEMA brochure said.

    september 11 Flooding from Hurricane Irene

    A study by Rice University educators showed that people who prepared for Hurricane Ike, which hit Houston in 2008, were calmer and less likely to evacuate in advance of the storm. Those who lived outside the recommended evacuation zone stayed off the road, allowing those at greater risk to leave more quickly and reducing auto accidents, the study’s authors wrote.

    For older adults, families with young children and people with special needs, preparation is vital to survival. More than half the people who died in Hurricane Katrina were age 65 and older, according to a New York Times story about disaster preparedness for older people.

    “They can’t get out of harm’s way fast enough,” Jenny Campbell, a nonprofit consultant who deals with age-related issues told the New York Times. “And sometimes they may not even have a way to flee. Or they may lack a larger social system, and so they may not be warned in time.”

    Second, being prepared reduces the destruction from disasters, according to FEMA. The Rice University study called this type of preparedness hazard mitigation.

    Hazard mitigation includes trimming branches and making repairs before a disaster to reduce damage. It also means making copies of important documents. Helene Dressendofer was in her late 70s when Hurricane Sandy destroyed her home in 2012, according to the New York Times. Her documents were stored in cardboard folders and were destroyed. As of January 2016, she was still waiting for insurance reimbursement.

    She recommended scanning photographs, making a list of possessions and putting the list and other important documents in sealed waterproof boxes, according to the story.

    FEMA provides a free, 204-page, step-by-step guide to help individuals and families prepare for many types of disasters, called Are You Ready.

    When I returned to the military base several days after September 11, it was transformed. My carpool van had to zigzag through concrete barriers to enter, and U.S. Army soldiers scrutinized identification of every person in the vehicle. When I went out jogging, I passed new sentry boxes and soldiers on patrol in the scrub. It was comforting in a way.

    Being prepared provides peace of mind. And it may save your property and life. On September 11, 2001, one of my employers was ready. The other was lucky. Which would you rather be?


    september 11

  • Why You Should Use Essential Oils in Emergencies

    A friend of mine carries 10 essential oils in her purse for emergencies. When she travels, she takes a dozen or more.

    Emergency Essentials now sells essential oils. Here are a few that could be useful in a first aid kit.



    Essential Oils LavenderOne day this summer, when my special needs daughter had lost her temper and was screaming on the ground in a full-blown meltdown, Cherylee, another friend who knows essential oils, suggested I try lavender essential oil.

    Lavender was a logical suggestion. Although the evidence is limited, some clinical studies suggest patients waiting for surgery seemed calmer if they inhaled lavender through aromatherapy than those who used other calming methods, according to a 2014 literature review in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

    It may also be good for skin.

    Cherylee said she used some this summer when her daughter went outside without sunscreen. She believes it helped soothe her daughter’s skin irritation.

    “I use it on all my kids’ little scrapes and burns,” 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.

    Also, watch out for products labeled “lavender scented.” They don’t contain real lavender.



    Bottle of Peppermint essential oils

    Peppermint oil is one of the oldest European medicinal herbs. Its main active ingredient is menthol – that nasty-tasting ingredient in mouthwash and throat lozenges. It’s been used for many years as a traditional medicine to treat stomach pain.

    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.

    Cherylee uses peppermint to help her muscles cool off after a workout. She also uses it for occasional head pain.

    For tension headaches, patients in a study cited by WebMD applied 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution across their forehead and temples then repeated the process after 15 and 30 minutes.

    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.


    Tea tree (Melaleuca)

    Melaleuca Essential OilsCherylee said tea tree oil has “limitless applications.”

    The chemicals in tea tree may have antifungal properties. One study mentioned in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found a 10 percent tea tree oil cream worked about as well as over the counter athlete’s foot cream (tolnaftate 1%) to relieve symptoms of athlete’s foot. It didn’t cure the infection, though. Researchers found a 100 percent tea tree solution used twice daily for six months decreased toenail fungus in 60 percent of patients.

    “I’ve used this for occasional ear irritation, for minor skin irritation,” Cherylee said.

    Don’t take tea tree oil by mouth. It’s likely unsafe, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also be mildly irritating to skin and cause an allergic skin reaction in some people.



    Frankincense Essential OilsFrankincense is Cherylee’s favorite oil for emergencies.

    “I’d use this any day over any oil. When in doubt, I use it,” she said. “It will help the body take care of itself at any level.”

    Even though frankincense has been in use for thousands of years, we still don’t have that much information about it or how it works, according to WebMD.

    It’s made from hardened sap of a type of tree from the genus Boswellia. When tested in labs, components from sap extracts might have anti-inflammatory properties, according to an overview in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

    Cherylee also feels frankincense, when mixed with other essential oils, helps enhance their effects.

    Since there’s not that much known about frankincense, WebMD recommends you always follow package directions and talk to a health care professional before using it.


    Essential OilsThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration identifies three ways to use essential oils for the body: internally as a dietary supplement, topically and aromatically.

    Elementa Essentials, the company that makes the oil sold on this site, does not recommend using any of its products internally without a doctor’s approval.

    It advises caution for any type of application if you’re pregnant, on medication or have sensitive skin.

    Don’t apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. Put 3-10 drops in an ounce of vegetable oil or lotion. Oils need to be as pure as possible.

    Cherylee dilutes her essential oils in fractionated coconut oil, a coconut oil from which one type of fat has been removed.

    “It’s not oily and it help(s) the skin absorb the essential oil better,” she wrote.

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

    However you use essential oils, be careful and consult an expert first.

    “Treat essential oils with the same care that you treat medicines,” said an article in AromaWeb.


    - Melissa


    Essential Oils Blog Banner



    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.

    Trinkley KENahata MC, “Medication management of irritable bowel syndrome.” Digestion. 2014;89(4):253-67. doi: 10.1159/000362405. Epub 2014 Jul 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24992947

    Stea, Susanna, Beraudi, Alina, and De Pasquale, Dalila, “Essential Oils for Complementary Treatment of Surgical Patients: State of the Art,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 726341, 6 pages

  • Skills Grandpa Knew (And You Should, Too)

    Being a city slicker has its advantages. Basically, we can get anything we need thanks to convenient shops and local utility companies. Food, clothes, car parts - and let's not forget electricity and natural gas - all come to us without very much work on our part. But what would happen if the world decided to bug out on us, and we were left to our own natural instincts? Would you still be able to provide for yourself – and your family – if the grid went down, an EMP went off, or something of the like?

    Back in the day, people weren’t as reliant on the corporate world to get them what they needed. People had skills, and their skills were necessary to their livelihood. In an article from Off Grid Quest, the author suggests that “if we were to have a breakdown in society, those skills which we never bothered to learn would become essential.”

    So what are those essential skills? I thought you’d never ask. Here are five skills that would do us all well to know, whether we have a societal breakdown or not.


    1. Gardening

    You need food. That’s going to be one of the realizations you have if all the store shelves are empty with no sign of extra stock arriving. That’s where a vegetable garden comes in handy.

    Old Timey Skills - GardeningGardening is a skill that may be a lot more difficult than most people think. It took the author of the aforementioned article “three years to get more than just herbs and a smattering of produce out of [the garden].” You could be in for some very hungry seasons if you put off learning how to garden until you absolutely need it. Fortunately, the Internet knows everything, so if you need help, you’re sure to find loads of information at your fingertips (such as this article by gardeners.com). And, if you need seeds that will store for a number of years, check out our garden and heirloom seeds here.


    1. Raising Animals For Food

    Old Timey Skills - Raising AnimalsJust like growing a garden, raising animals involves more than you may even realize. Cats and dogs are one thing, but cows, rabbits, chickens, and other delicious animals require the ability to take care of their illnesses yourself. Vets may not always be an option, so knowing how to care for your creatures is imperative. Other factors can include learning how to butcher and prepare the food that your animals sacrificed for you. Butchers might not be a readily available resource, so knowing how to properly prepare your critters could very well be a good skill to have.


    1. Hunting

    Speaking of preparing animals to eat, hunting is another useful skill that could help find food for your family when all else fails. Be it through your bow hunting skills or rifle abilities, know the tricks of the trade, including tracking and the nature of the animal you’re after.


    1. Basic Carpentry and Mechanics

    Old Timey Skills - MechanicsKnowing how to fix your car when it breaks down when there’s nobody else around is a good thing to know not only in a fallen society, but on long stretches of road where the next town is many miles away and traffic is few and far in between.

    Carpentry is the same way. Knowing how to go about repairing and making good, solid furniture and other things can really make a difference to your family when everything else has been taken from them.


    1. Canning and Food Storage

    Remember that vegetable garden you have? Knowing how to prepare and store that excess food for long-term storage will give you that extra buffer when times are tough. But don’t worry, even if you don’t have the resources to grow a garden or can your own food, we can help by providing you with delicious food that is packaged to store for up to 25 years. Check out our emergency food storage products for what will suit you and your family best.


    Of course, this is in the event of something extreme happening to our society that makes having these skills an essential part of our repertoire. Hopefully we won’t have to go that far. But then again, disasters are only as bad as we’re prepared for. Better to be safe than hungry, in my opinion.


    What are some other essential skills to know? Tell us in the comments below!

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