Your Quick Camping Survival Guide (Part 7: Practice Makes Safety)

YourQuickCampingSurvivalGuidePracticeMakesSafety Planning a camping trip away from civilization is a smart way to practice your wilderness survival skills. When you do, why not challenge yourself by making the practice feel a little more like a real-life emergency?

Here are just a few ideas to make your life a little tougher for a couple days, but for a good cause!

  1. Try building a fire without matches, newspaper or kindling from home.
  2. Find a good water source and use one of the lifestraw water filters that we have in stock at Total Prepare. Only use your back-up water reserves in the case of an actual emergency.
  3. Try building your own shelter instead of using a tent.
  4. Bring a book that tells you about wild edibles in your region, and try some food foraging! Of course, you’ll need to practice extreme caution and do your research thoroughly, in case of poisonous plants. Make sure you bring back-up food in case you can’t find any growing in the wild.
  5. If you’re licensed and it’s legal in your area, try fishing or hunting for your sustenance. Get creative!

Besides schooling yourself on these skills on a self-prepared camping trip, you can prepare yourself through other means too. You can find an abundance of Wilderness Survival Training camps and Outdoor Education across Canada. Check out this page for a list to start you off if you’re interested in taking action and getting prepared through wilderness education.

Finally, and just as importantly, try to get your friends and family excited about what you’re learning! Share about why you think wilderness skills and emergency preparedness are important, and even offer to organize wilderness and camping events if you’re up for it. Sometimes, sharing your knowledge with others is the best way to remind and teach yourself!


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

Canada’s Emergency Response to the Fort Mac Fire


Photo Credit – DarrenRD

The news is good. The Fort Mac Fire is designated as no longer out of control. What a month this has been! Though we hope this is the worst of it, we are acutely aware that other communities across Canada could very well experience similar tragedies as Fort McMurray. How would we respond? After thousands of residents first started being evacuated from Fort McMurray, Canadians from Alberta and other provinces immediately stepped up to support those who were displaced. Today we want to share some of these initiatives—mostly grassroots efforts—to inspire you to consider even just small ways to support any community that is struck with a disaster.

The following are some of the most caring emergency response efforts that we’ve heard about:

  1. Canadians got in their vehicles and drove to offer gas, food, water and basic hygiene to anyone stranded at the side of the road.
  2. People opened their homes. To help get the word out, Airbnb activated its Disaster Response Tool in response to the ongoing crisis in Alberta. Once activated, the tool automatically emails hosts in the affected area asking them to help and allows local residents to easily list their space for free. The company also waives all services fees for those affected by disaster.
  3. Syrian refugee families who have only been living in Canada for a matter of months gathered together and raised money to help Fort McMurray evacuees. Their goal was to help feed people and boost morale because they knew only too well the trauma of having to leave everything behind. They wanted to give back to a country that has given them a home.
  4. The University of Alberta accommodated more than 1,000 evacuees in their Lister Centre residence, reaching full capacity.
  5. The Canadian Red Cross took donations to help fight the Alberta fires and the people it affected, with the Government of Canada matching every individual donation.
  6. The Edmonton Humane Society helped people take care of their pets.
  7. Volunteers offered to go find pets and communicated through social media to reunite pets with owners.
  8. The Government of Alberta issued prepaid debit cards.
  9. Any Fort McMurray residents in Edmonton who experienced flat tires or other tire issues were invited to the Fountain Tire at 8550 Yellowhead Trail for free repairs.
  10. Edmonton’s food bank, Expo Centre at Northlands and Emergency Relief Services, among other organizations, helped to organize relief efforts.
  11. People donated money, diapers, baby wipes, new toiletries, new socks and underwear, and other basic necessities.
  12. An open-source Facebook page was set up to help evacuees with resources and information.
  13. The U-Haul Company of Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Edmonton offered 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box container use for people evacuated by wildfires who needed to store personal items.
  14. Many other organizations, as well as families and private companies and municipalities, pitched in to help with the huge wildfire and its aftermath.

And more! This list is far from exhausted. With the likelihood of more wildfires throughout this season, it’s comforting to see our neighbouring communities and provinces helping out where we can. The golden rule really does apply to emergency relief perfectly: Treat others as you would like to be treated.


How to Prepare Your Kids for an Emergency


Credit: LaraStock

If you live by yourself, then getting your whole household on the same page is a simple task. However, if there are two or more of you, communication becomes an important factor in quality of life, and even safety, particularly if you have kids.

When you’re living in a group setting, it isn’t enough for just one person in the household to be prepared for emergencies. Even if it’s one person who has done the research and the planning—and we’ve stressed this before—it’s absolutely crucial that this person shares what they’ve learned.

This is even more important to remember if you have kids in your household. Here are a few handy tips to help your kids remember what they need to do in the case of an emergency!

  1. If your children are very young, you may need to run through your emergency plan more often, so that they remember what to do.
  2. Your children may also need more detailed instructions. For example instead of saying, “Our emergency meeting place is across the street.” You may want to include “Look both ways before crossing the street” to your explanation.
  3. You may also need to include explanations of what each item in their emergency kit is for, and how it’s used.
  4. It’s also important to let your children know—and show them physically—where the emergency supplies are kept. And on that note, it’s best if you keep the supplies within their reach!

Here are some other helpful tips:

  1. Remember to prepare your children for each kind of emergency that could happen in your region, including natural disasters, as well as house fires.
  2. If you haven’t already created your family emergency kit, get your children involved when you do. If you’ve already done it, you can still go through the kit item by item and talk about the importance of each one, and if relevant, how to use it. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to make this a semi-regular routine. You could even turn this into some kind of game, to make it fun!
  3. It’s also important to talk to your kids about emergencies that might happen while they’re at school or somewhere else where they spend a lot of their time.
  4. During an emergency, one of the best ways to help your children cope is to simply be there for them, and be willing to talk, if you can. It’s good to let them know that it’s ok to be afraid. Acknowledging your own feelings will also help them feel comforted, along with explaining the situation to them, to the best of your ability.
  5. During an emergency, it’s ideal to keep a routine if possible, such as regular family dinner time and regular bedtimes.
  6. After an emergency, you may want to consult a psychologist or social worker for help dealing with any forms of post traumatic stress that the event may have caused.

You might want to consider creating or purchasing a Children’s Comfort Emergency Kit, with extra items to help your children cope with the scariness of an emergency situation. Designed to help put young kids at ease during the first few hours of an emergency, these kits include a handful of activities to keep them occupied, instead of worried or frightened. Having his or her own kit may also help your child feel more in control during a time of chaos. You can also include important contact information in their kit, in case they get separated from you at any time.

Here is what you will find in one of these kits:


  • 1 x Children’s Backpack Children's Comfort Kit

Food & Water

  • 1 x Water Bottle
  • 4 x 4.2 oz Water Pouches
  • 4 x 400 Calorie Millennium Bars

Emergency Supplies

  • 1 x Children’s Poncho
  • 1 x Reflective Blanket
  • 1 x Flashlight with Batteries
  • 1 x Signal Whistle
  • 1 x 8 Hour Lightstick
  • 1 x Band Aids (6 pack)

Hygiene Kit

  • 1 x Soap
  • 1 x Washcloth
  • 6 x Wetnaps
  • 1 x Toothbrush
  • 1 x Tissue (10 pack)
  • 1 x Toothpaste
  • 1 x Comb
  • 1 x Shampoo

Children’s Activity Pack

  • 2 x Activity Books
  • 1 x Crayons (4 pack)
  • 1 x Notepad
  • 1 x Pencil
  • 1 x Stuffed Bear

What’s more, you can add extra food and water to turn them into 72-hour emergency kits that are kid friendly! Of course, you can also personalize them with items that are specifically important to your children.

If you’re a parent, you may have already considered these points and ideas, and more. Please feel free to add your ideas in the comments below, or contact us with any questions.


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

Getting Your Community Prepared for an Emergency

GettingYourCommunityPreparedForAnEmergency In the past, we’ve talked about getting our workplaces and our schools prepared for emergencies, along with our homes. And today we want to encourage you to spread the motivation further. You can use any kind of group or community to inspire people to get prepared.

You could use your…

  • College
  • Reading club, writing club, meetup group, discussion group, etc.
  • Sports team
  • Fundraising group or non-profit society
  • Church community
  • Neighbourhood/Block Watch Group
  • Care or Retirement Home, or that of your parents/relatives
  • Group of friends

Once you’ve built rapport with people, they’ll listen to you more carefully and be more accepting of what you have to say. There’s also strength in groups—experience has shown that those who have planned together in groups do far better in the event of an emergency than those who are on their own, not only physically, but emotionally as well. So if you’ve spent time wondering how to get prepared, or have started taking preparedness action already, why not share with those you already spend time with?

Encourage your friends, teammates, fellow club members and co-workers to find out more about how to get prepared, and share what you already know about the region you all live in, together—and the risks it holds.

Try out our federal government’s website encompassing and outlining all kinds of useful information and directions, and then feel free to visit our website to start building your own risk response.

We even have group discounts on survival kits, emergency food and water, and other emergency preparedness products—if you find success motivating the people around you to take action, together!


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

How to Deal with Water Restrictions

Last year, a number of gulf islands near our home base in Victoria ran out of water and had to get fresh water trucked in. And in many provinces across Canada affected by wildfire, water restrictions began as early as May and lasted through September.

Whether you live in British Columbia or in any of our other beautiful provinces, it’s important to know what these water restrictions mean. If you live in BC, you might find it helpful to read through our provincial bylaws on the issue, published by the CRD. And if you live in another province, you should be able to find a similar reference online.

And while summer is the time we would most associate with water restrictions and bans, they can really happen at any time! Whether it’s because of a hot, dry spell or wildfires, or whether it’s due to construction work on pipelines, or an accident, or breakage emergency—it’s best to be prepared!

If you’d like to take more control over your access to water in an emergency situation, why not get your household a 275 Gallon Super Tanker (use a water stabilizer like Aerobic Oxygen to keep it potable for up to 5 years!), or invest in a case of Blue Can Water that has a 50 Year Shelf Life, so that you can easily survive a drought—whether it’s created by nature or enforced by man.

Living in Canada, it’s so easy to take clean, fresh water for granted. But the reality is that there is a limit. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead for emergencies.

Ideally, we’re also always maintaining an awareness that water is one of earth’s precious resources—not just when it’s restricted. Below are a few ways that you can do your part to keep yourself—and us all—hydrated, clean and healthy:   

  1. Adhere to your federal water restrictions and fire bans.
  2. Go golden. Let your lawn succumb to nature during the hot summer months.
  3. Mulch your plants in order to help keep in the moisture, restrict runoff, and allow them to survive with much less watering.
  4. Think twice before washing your car or boat.
  5. Don’t leave taps running.
  6. Have quick showers.
  7. Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when they’re full.

If you have more ideas on how to conserve water, please leave a comment in the section below, or contact us directly! Let’s all practice good stewardship this summer!


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

Green car equipped with a car emergency kit/car survival kit/car safety kit

Emergency Car Kits in Wildfire Situations

TheCriticalNeedforEmergencyCarKits With wildfires spreading rampantly across the forests and prairies of Canada each year it’s important to ensure you have an emergency car kit in your vehicle.

For many of us, the risk seems distant. But wildfires can spread at rates of 23km/hour and an evacuation notice can arrive at the door before we even realize we’re in danger. Sometimes, we’re given only moments to get out.

And that’s why having a car survival kit prepared and in place is so important. If your car is mechanically ready to drive, the tank is full, and you have emergency necessities to help you get through the next 72 hours or a week—evacuation will be much calmer.

You won’t need to worry about forgetting something important, like water, because you’ll already have it ready. Instead, you may even have time to grab a sentimental photograph or important documents. Because you know you’re prepared, you’ll be able to communicate better with your family or household members, which brings a level of calmness to the situation. Then, when you’re on the road, you’ll be able to focus on driving safely. The food and water you packed in your emergency car kit will help you think clearly.

In an effort to get prepared today, why not start gathering together some of the items from this list? You might be surprised how many items you already possess, and getting them into one place is a good first step! Want a ready-made option? Check out our Premium Car Emergency Kit.

Here are some of the most basic necessities of a car kit:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars, or emergency ration bars (5 year shelf life!)
  • Water—emergency water pouches are best to keep long term in a vehicle because they are designed to withstand extreme temperatures and they have a 5 year shelf life. Be wary of keeping plastic water bottles long term in your car – the interior of vehicles heat up quickly in the sun and the high temperatures reached can cause chemicals in the plastic water bottles to leech into the water
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing, shoes, or boots
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind‑up flashlight and radio. Many units can also charge cell phones now
  • Whistle—in case you need to attract attention
  • Roadmaps
  • Copy of your emergency plan

If you don’t have an emergency car kit and need to evacuate your home because of a wildfire or other disaster, make sure you grab any other kind of emergency kit you have in your home. If you don’t have any kind of kit at all, it’s best to grab water and food first. Then, if you still have a couple minutes, grab blankets, first aid supplies, a flashlight and your cellphone and charger. Some toilet paper might be useful as well!

Below are the eight components of emergency preparedness, in order of priority, to help you think through the most essential items:

  1. Water (bottles, cans, etc.)
  2. Food (non perishable items)
  3. Heat (blankets, extra clothing layers, matches, fuel, etc.)
  4. Shelter (your car, camping gear, etc.)
  5. Light (flashlight, lamps, etc.)
  6. Communication (cellphone, charger, radio, etc.)
  7. First Aid (first aid kit, bandages, rubbing alcohol, etc.)
  8. Sanitation (toilet paper, hand sanitizer, garbage bags etc.)

Of course, the more you have gathered together and in place ahead of time, the more able you’ll be to cope calmly, efficiently and effectively with a disaster such as a wildfire evacuation.


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

It’s Emergency Preparedness Week – are you ready?

EPWEEK2016 Aritcle2 Did you know that people across Canada are recognizing Emergency Preparedness Week this week, May 1st to 7th? To help you prepare, we’re offering fantastic deals on potentially life-saving 72-hour and one week kits!

What’s more, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and the task of getting prepared keeps getting bumped to the bottom of your to-do list, we want to help you! One day, if a disaster strikes, being on the list won’t be enough. So today, we want to set you up for a week of preparedness. It’s just 5 simple steps. Choose one per weekday and by the end of the week you’ll be farther ahead than where you were at the beginning of the week.


5 Steps to Start Your Emergency Preparedness

  1. Visit – Canada’s online resource for emergencies. It’s packed full of information like how to make a plan, what hazards are in your area, how to plan for children, people with disabilities/special needs, and pets, what to put in an emergency kit. Get Prepared will also direct you to your Provincial or territorial emergency management organization (EMO). Familiarize yourself with your province or territory’s planning and research, training, response operations and the administration and delivery of disaster financial assistance programs in the event of an emergency. Your municipalities should also have resources available to you online.
  2. Gather your household together for an hour. Bring a pen and paper. Discuss the disasters that could potentially happen in your region, along with a list of everything you think you will need to gather (over time). This way, when you’re seeking to get prepared, you’ll have some guidance as to what purchases you need to make, and what procedures to follow. Develop your plan for responding to different emergency situations – Where will you meet? Does everyone in the household know where the emergency supplies are kept? Where will you meet if you’re all over town? If you have children – who can they go to in the neighbourhood if no one else is home, or if you’re injured and unable to direct them? A good guide like Jackie Kloosterboer’s My Emergency Earthquake Guide is another fantastic resource, and has applicable information to all emergencies, not just earthquakes.
  3. Make one purchase. Whether it’s an emergency kit for each household member, two weeks supply of water with a long shelf life, or freeze-dried food, you’ll be one step closer to being prepared, and maybe you’ll be motivated to do more sooner rather than later!
  4. Make a list of emergency contacts for your household, both local and out-of-province, and call them to let them know that you’ve chosen them as your emergency contacts. Make sure everyone in your household knows who these contacts are and how to reach them.
  5. Set aside an easily accessible space in your home, or an outdoor shed, for your emergency supplies. Gather everything that you already have in your home that could be useful. This may include flashlights, batteries, radios, an old cellphone that can call 911, lightweight camping gear… Think carefully, and only include what’s necessary.

If you complete all five of these tasks between May 1st and 7th, congratulations! And please feel free to make a comment below about what you learned during the process. If you started but weren’t able to finish, please don’t be discouraged. Instead, challenge yourself to do it next week, or the week after next! And remember to check back to see regular and relevant updates on our blog!

Your Quick Camping Survival Guide (Part 6: How to Build a Shelter)


Wikimedia Commons/ Jim Champion

In our last post in this series, we talked about some of the basic how-to’s of building a fire in the wilderness, and today we’re here to talk about another skill that will help you stay warm in a situation where every comfort factor feels like a life-saver – how to build a shelter.

Before starting to build a shelter, you’ll need to choose what kind of structure you want to build. And, to do that, you’ll need to inspect your surroundings, both to make sure there’s shelter from the wind and a good water source nearby, as well as to figure out what materials you have to work with.

If you’re in an area where there are natural shelters, such as overhanging cliffs, caves or deep snow, then a lot of your work has already been done for you.  If tree branches are your biggest material source, then your best option is to build some kind of lean-to. Look here for 15 great shelter ideas to keep you protected in an emergency.

The following are a few tips for a few different locations you may find yourself in:

  1. If you decide to take shelter in a cave, proceed with caution, in case it’s occupied, and make sure that you build your fire near the mouth of the cave to ward off animal intruders.
  2. If you’re near the coast and have access to rocks, you can build a U-shape with the rocks, against the wind. Then you can form a roof with driftwood and fill in the cracks with seaweed.
  3. If you’re using trees as wind barriers, you can dig a shallow pit at the base of a tree and line it with bark, leaves or moss.
  4. You could also use branches to form a lean-to, leaning the foundational first branch against a standing tree. If you have rope, it might come in handy here. Branches of all sizes will be useful, as the shelter slopes down to meet the ground, and using thick grasses and bark and branches with leaves and needles will help fill all the cracks and keep you sheltered from wind and even rain! It would be super useful to have a multi-function army knife on hand, to help you get your branches to the best sizes.
  5. If you’re able to find long enough branches, you may be able to build a wigwam, and even construct it so that you can build a fire inside, with a place for oxygen to get in and smoke to rise up and out.

So really, when it comes to building a shelter, you have options no matter where you find yourself. Assessing the situation first is key, and then taking action quickly, before the cold sets in or night falls.

For a further look at shelter-building and other survival skill tips, look back at some of our recent blog posts, or find more information at the British Columbia Adventure Network.


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

Your Quick Camping Survival Guide (Part 5: Building a Fire)



If you have read some of our most recent blog posts, you’ll remember that we’ve been talking about a number of survival skills useful in the case of an emergency where you need to “rough it” in the wilderness. We are not wilderness experts, but want to get the juices flowing and challenge you to get excited about looking further into learning these valuable skills. In our previous post, we talked about staying hydrated, and today we want to talk about a specific skill that will help you to stay warm: how to build a fire.

If you decide to enjoy a campfire with friends, are you the one who builds the fire? If you’re not, perhaps think about becoming that person—or joining and learning from whomever typically takes on that role.

Here are a few tips to get you started on how to build a fire:

  1. Find a sandy or rocky area to build your fire, to avoid forest fires or brush fires. Having a supply of water or sand nearby is important, in case you need to put out your campfire quickly.
  2. If you keep matches on hand, it’s best to have waterproof and windproof matches, or even a flint striker, which can last you a long time!
  3. If you don’t have matches, you can create a spark with a cigarette lighter, flint and steel, the electric spark from an ignited battery coming into contact with a gasoline dampened rag, or the sun’s rays passing through a magnifying lens onto the tinder.
  4. Of course, tinder is another very important element of building a fire. When you’re choosing tinder, try to find dry grasses, bark, small pieces of wood, cloth, paper or lint. As long as the tinder is dry, it should work. And then these smaller pieces can be used to ignite larger pieces of wood.
  5. Collect all of your tinder and firewood before you start building the fire, because timing can be of essence, once you get the fire going.
  6. Ventilate your fire well. Whatever construction you create, make sure there are open spaces between the larger pieces of wood so that oxygen has access.

For more wilderness tips, feel free to delve into this handy online adventure network and tune in again soon to read about another important survival skill that will help to keep you warm: building a shelter!


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for

Your Quick Camping Survival Guide (Part 4: How to Stay Hydrated)

If you’re in the midst of a frightening emergency where you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, it can be tricky to find the balance between thinking positively (eg. “Someone will find me by nightfall”)  and preparing for the worst (eg. “It may just be me, myself and I for the next couple weeks”). If you’ve already prepared yourself for a two-week stint, the prospect of waiting it out shouldn’t seem quite so bad.

But even if help is probably going to arrive in the next hours, or by tomorrow, it’s smart to start making a plan immediately. And one of your first priorities, of course, should be water and staying hydrated.

Now, ideally, you would have some kind of water filter or purification tablets with you, such as the LifeStraw Go or one of the other LifeStraw water filters that we carry.

But even if you don’t have the right gear, all is not lost if you can get a little creative. The following are a few tips to use if you find yourself in a tight spot and getting thirsty. They’re based on non-ideal situations and involve more risk than if you’re using a certified water filter, but they’re still good tips to know.

So here it goes:

  • To stay as hydrated as possible, it’s important to prevent as much water loss as possible. To do this, try to find shelter, stay in the shade, rest and keep cool.
  • Start looking for your next source of water before you run out of your current supply.
  • Avoid fatty foods, caffeine and alcohol, because they trigger aggressive digestion, which uses up liquid. Instead, try to eat fruits and vegetables, which contain water.
  • If you have a map, any water sources should be marked, so look to the obvious, first.
  • If you don’t have a map, find an elevated location and look for indentations in the earth or tree tops. This could very well be an indicator of a waterway.
  • Listen for the buzzing of bugs and mosquitoes. They like to hang around near water sources.
  • You may be able to collect water from the surrounding plants, such as birch trees, which can sometimes be tapped for water like sap from maples.
  • You can also dig for water at the bottom of dry creek beds or ravines.
  • If you’re desperate for water and all you have is muddy water, you may need to make do with a makeshift water filter, using sand! Find some helpful instructions here, and remember that even with an added layer of charcoal to your filter, the water may not be completely pure of all dangerous bacteria.

There’s so much more to know about staying hydrated and finding and treating water to make it safe for drinking. For a deeper read on finding water in the wilderness, have a look here! And stay tuned for our next installment on another survival skill that is crucial to have if ever you face an emergency camping trip.


Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for