Zombie Apocalypse

Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse?


Zombie Apocalypse


Today we’ll be looking at the history of Zombies, the likelihood of a Zombie Apocalypse, and best practices if you find yourself in a real-life horror film. While zombie apocalypse is purely fictional, these preparedness measures can be applied to real-life emergencies, such as natural disasters or civil unrest. Always prioritize safety and legality when preparing for any scenario.

Did you know that the word for a fear of the walking dead is kinemortophobia? I happen to have that fear – as I believe all sensible humans should. But, as always, I’m aiming to be (say it with me) Prepared, Not Scared!

Want a quick reference?  Check out our Infographic on the Zombie Apocalypse!

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Defining a Zombie

Throughout the centuries there have been many different versions of Zombies. They are classified as undead, a grouping they share with vampires, mummies, and ghosts. Generally speaking, a zombie is a reanimated dead body – usually human – that can walk and often has an insatiable hunger for the living.

Depending on the mythos, zombies can be directed by whoever woke them (a witch doctor or necromancer) or they might be independent, mindless hunters. There are two ways a zombie is usually created: magic, and science.

In the original zombie stories the dead are usually woken by a priest or a sorcerer who wishes to use empty bodies or trapped souls as servants. This usually pulls a lot of themes from the Voodoo (or Vodou) traditions in Haiti. We’ll explore that more in a moment.

As belief in magic has become scarce in modern times many story-tellers are taking a new approach to the idea of the zombie. These creators looked at the traditional shambling, unkillable zombie of pop-culture and thought to themselves “How can we make these things EVEN SCARIER?” and they correctly decided the answer was to make them contagious. These creatures birthed the ‘pandemic era’ zombies and in turn, the newest wave of undead media (think Walking Dead and Shawn of the Dead).


How it all Began

It would be remiss to discuss Zombies without mentioning their origins. Many believe that the word Zombies comes from West African languages. Ndzumbi for example means ‘corpse’ in the Mitsogo language of Gabon, and nzambi translates to spirit of a dead person in the Kongo language. This makes sense as the idea of the modern zombie is believed to have originated in the slave trade.

West African peoples were among the hardest hit by European slavers looking for forced labour in the sugar plantations of the New World. Many slaves were required by law to convert to Catholicism, but they held fiercely to many of their old beliefs. The result was a spiritual cocktail mixing different traditions like Voodoo in Haiti, Obeah in Jamaica, and Santeria in Cuba.

In early mythos of Martinique and Haiti, zombies could be a spirit or ghost, or just a disturbing presence that could choose its form. Over time the beliefs took the form of a bokor, or witch-doctor, rendering a victim apparently dead and then reviving them as personal slaves. According to the BBC: “The zombie, in effect, is the logical outcome of being a slave: without will, without name, and trapped in a living death of unending labour.”

At the end of the American occupation of Haiti, American forces brought home pieces of the ‘zombie superstition.’ The first American movie to feature a zombie was a 1932 film called White Zombie. It paved the way for a pop-culture fascination with a possible Zombie Apocalypse.


Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse

As we mentioned, more modern versions of the zombie story point to disease as the cause for a contagious invasion of the dead. This version of the myth is what we’ll center our preparedness discussion on. It is more likely to occur than a magic-fuelled apocalypse and would affect a lot more people.

It’s safe to assume that if a zombie virus were to develop it would follow the patterns of existing infections. For the purposes of this post we’re going to assume the virus matches the rabies-flu hybrid proposed by the National Geographic Society. Here’s the gist:

  1. Symptoms would resemble those of rabies victims (anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, paralysis, culminating in violent madness.)
  2. Symptoms would begin to show within hours of infection.
  3. The virus would be airborne like influenza to allow a pandemic spread.

For the diehard zombie fanatics out there who are limbering up to argue for transmission through biting, keep in mind that regular rabies transmits that way and it simply doesn’t get far. For our scenario, we need something more potent.

This proposed virus, let’s call it ‘the Z strain,’ would spread rapidly and create large groups of confused, incoherent, violent people. For arguments sake, we’re also going to say that victims of the Z strain are more likely to take their violent urges out on healthy people, to more closely resemble the myths. We’ll also say that the virus causes death at a similar rate to rabies, 7-30 days after symptoms show.


The Chances of a Zombie Apocalypse

So, how likely is the Z strain to occur in real life? While it’s not impossible, it is highly unlikely. The rabies virus would need to take on several aspects from other viruses. This has practically no chance of occurring in nature. It might be possible in a lab under human direction, but even then it would be a long shot. To borrow once again from National Geographic’s research into a rage virus, the University of Miami’s Samita Andreansky said:

“Sure, I could imagine a scenario where you mix rabies with a flu virus to get airborne transmission, a measles virus to get personality changes, the encephalitis virus to cook your brain with fever”—and thus increase aggression even further—”and throw in the ebola virus to cause you to bleed from your guts. Combine all these things, and you’ll [get] something like a zombie virus,” she said.

“But [nature] doesn’t allow all of these things to happen at the same time. … You’d most likely get a dead virus.”

The Kit is Real

Like all major emergencies a well supplied kit will be crucial for surviving an outbreak of the Z strain. Going to the grocery store and running errands will be a dangerous proposition until the virus has been eradicated.

The rules for building a kit for a Zombie Apocalypse is very similar to building any kit. You’ll need food, water (in case the people running the water treatment/distribution networks become infected), lights and radio in case power fails, and first aid supplies. It would be a very bad time to go to a hospital, so you may also want to stock up on antibiotics. What’s different about a pandemic kit? A concentration on sanitation and face masks. Pack a box of latex or nitrile gloves, a LOT of hand sanitizer, and plenty of N95 masks.

There is one other HUGE advantage that a zombie kit has over any other emergency kit: It’s fun. Zombies are a gateway topic to get kids and adults thinking practically about preparedness. Not having any luck getting junior to learn about your earthquake or flood preparations? Well, now those kits are for zombies, and much more interesting.

Best Practices for Zombie Attack

So, you have a kit, you know all about zombies, and you’ve just spotted the first mention of an outbreak in your area on social media. What do you do?

Learn the Signs

Research is one of your best tools against pandemics. Look into how the disease spreads, and what early symptoms to watch out for. Map out the areas where it is known to be spreading and avoid them. If the situation turns full zombie-movie and you wind up living with a small group of survivors it will be important to know when one of you is infected.

Wash Your Hands

Keep clean, don’t shake hands with anyone, wear your N95 masks, and if possible stay in your home. An apocalypse is a bad time for house guests, so keep visitors to a minimum – there’s no telling who might be carrying the deadly virus.

Be sure to keep cooking areas clean, and to deal with your waste appropriately if your plumbing stops working. Even if the Z strain only travels by air, exposing yourself to more mundane sickness can lower your immune defenses, making it easier for zombification to take hold.

Location, location, location.

In extreme zombie situations, you may need to evacuate your home to avoid exposure or attack. In these instances, a bug out bag will make your life 100x easier. Having a grab and go option for evacuation means that you will not need to rely on central supplies, like muster stations, where crowds may gather and risk of infection is high.

Head away from population centers where zombies will gather in greater numbers to look for victims. If you have access to a boat, head to an island with no land access, or live on the boat itself. Unless your undead are like those in the Pirates of the Caribbean, they probably won’t brave the water to reach you.

If boats aren’t an option, head for places with difficult terrain and plenty of cover. Wooded mountains are good, as are remote cabins, or taking a motor home to the far end of a logging road.

City dwellers may find it impossible to leave the city without risking infection or attack. In these cases sealing your home off from any marauding zombies and staying in central rooms is good. If that is not an option, try to find a way to get up high, where it will be difficult for a zombie to follow.

Build a Team

If we’re going full zombie movie, you’ll need a team of survivors to ride out the zombocalypse with. Cinematic case studies would suggest that the strongest teams have at least one of each of these roles: weapons expert/brawler, doctor, tech-whiz, a diplomatic leader, an antagonist, and someone likeable who dies early to invest the audience. Try not to be the latter.

In a real life scenario you will likely not get to pick and choose who you get, but you can assign roles and work together to make your hideout safe. Avoid infighting at all costs – it never ends well.

The Right Tool for the Job

On the off-chance that an actual, honest-to-goodness, walking-dead style zombie apocalypse occurs, you may need to kill things that are already dead. According to most mythos, detaching the head from the zombie usually does the trick. Because of this, pack an axe or other slashing weapon to your zombie kit, and avoid piercing and bludgeoning weapons as they will have little effect.

*Total Prepare does not condone the use of weapons against infected or other living persons. Only against actual reanimated bodies in life or death situations.*

How Long Will the Zombie Apocalypse Last?

The lifespan of our DIY apocalypse varies depending on the type of zombie. According to the Zombie Research Society (yes – that’s a thing) if the zombies are of the shuffling dead variety, they could be gone from the earth in as little as 5 weeks. This assumes that the bodies still decay at the same rate as their non-infected counterparts.

The University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics published a peer-reviewed student paper that analyzed how the world would fair against an epidemic-like spread of zombie infection. The results were not promising for humanity. According to their estimations, human populations would crash to a few hundred people left on earth. The zombies would die off 1000 days after the beginning of the epidemic. 10,000 days after the epidemic begins, humanity would begin to recover.

What’s Your Plan?

Whether it’s an outbreak of the Z strain, or a rogue necromancer raising the dead, it helps to have a plan, a kit, and a safe place to go. Do you have a zombie plan in place? If so, let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

This article was written by Zenia Platten – Author of Tethered (which has zombies!), and emergency preparedness professional.

Can pets detect earthquakes? Dog tilting its head

Can Our Pets Detect Earthquakes?

When it comes to natural disasters, earthquakes are some of the most unpredictable and dangerous events that can occur. They can strike suddenly and without warning, leaving behind widespread destruction and devastation. As humans, we rely on technology and early warning systems to detect these quakes, but what about our pets? Many people believe that their furry companions have the ability to sense earthquakes before they occur, but is there any scientific evidence to back up this claim? Let’s explore the topic further and see if our pets really can detect earthquakes.

The Mystery of Earthquake Prediction

Earthquakes are caused by the sudden movement of tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s surface. Despite significant advances in technology and scientific research, we are still unable to predict when and where an earthquake will occur. Earthquake prediction is one of the biggest mysteries in the world of science, and researchers continue to work tirelessly to find ways to predict these natural disasters before they happen.

While we may not be able to predict earthquakes with any level of accuracy, there are some signs and signals that can give us a clue that an earthquake might be coming. These include changes in animal behavior, gas leaks, and strange sounds or vibrations. This is where our pets come into play.


Can Pets Really Sense Earthquakes?

Many pet owners claim that their animals exhibit strange behavior before an earthquake occurs. This includes pacing, barking, whining, or hiding in unusual places. While this behavior might seem random or odd at the time, it could be a sign that something is about to happen. But is there any scientific evidence to support these claims?

Research into the matter is limited, and the scientific community is divided on whether or not pets can really sense earthquakes. Some studies have suggested that dogs, cats, and even fish might be able to detect the subtle vibrations and changes in the environment that occur before an earthquake strikes. These changes could include changes in air pressure, the release of gases, or the movement of underground water.

One study conducted found that dogs were able to detect earthquakes before they occurred by detecting subtle changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. The study found that dogs were more likely to behave strangely before an earthquake if they were located closer to the epicenter of the quake. Another study conducted found that catfish were able to sense changes in the Earth’s magnetic field before an earthquake, causing them to become more active and move around more than usual.

Despite these findings, there is still a lot of skepticism surrounding the idea that pets can detect earthquakes. Some scientists believe that the behavior exhibited by pets before an earthquake is simply a result of anxiety or fear, rather than an ability to sense the quake itself.

dog tilting his head

The Verdict: Can Pets Really Sense Earthquakes?

So, can our furry friends really detect earthquakes before they occur? The answer is, it’s still unclear. While there have been some studies that suggest that dogs, cats, and even fish might be able to sense subtle changes in the environment before an earthquake strikes, the evidence is still inconclusive. Some researchers believe that the behavior exhibited by pets before an earthquake is simply a result of anxiety or fear, rather than an ability to sense the quake itself.

However, it’s important to note that our pets are incredibly attuned to our emotions and can pick up on subtle changes in our behavior and environment. They may not be able to predict an earthquake, but they can certainly sense when something is off or when we are feeling anxious or upset. This means that if you are feeling uneasy or nervous before an earthquake, your pet might be able to pick up on those feelings and exhibit strange behavior as a result.


What Should You Do If You Notice Strange Behavior in Your Pet?

If you notice your pet exhibiting strange behavior before an earthquake, it’s important to remain calm and vigilant. While it’s still unclear whether or not pets can detect earthquakes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, it’s a good idea to have an emergency plan in place and to make sure that you and your pets are prepared for any potential disasters.

If you notice your pet behaving strangely, such as hiding in an unusual place, pacing or whining, it’s important to pay attention to these signs and take action if necessary. Move your pet to a safe location, away from windows or other potential hazards, and make sure they have access to food, water, and a comfortable place to rest. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit on hand for both you and your pet, including food, water, medication, and other essentials.


Final Thoughts

While the question of whether or not pets can detect earthquakes remains unanswered, there is no doubt that our furry friends are incredibly attuned to our emotions and can pick up on subtle changes in our behavior and environment. Whether or not they can sense an impending earthquake, it’s important to pay attention to your pet’s behavior and take action if you notice any signs of anxiety or distress.

In the end, it’s always better to be prepared for any potential disaster, whether it’s an earthquake or some other natural disaster. Make sure that you and your pets have a plan in place and are prepared for any potential emergencies. And remember, if you’re feeling uneasy or anxious, your pet might be able to pick up on those feelings and exhibit strange behavior as a result. So, stay calm, be prepared, and always keep an eye on your furry friends.

Useful sources:

Some pets may begin displaying behavior changes several minutes or even days prior to an earthquake, such as unprovoked anxiety, stress, pacing or increased activity1. This phenomenon is called Seismic Escape Response and may be linked to a dog’s ability to hear high-frequency sounds of rocks moving and breaking beneath the earth1.

However, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that dogs can predict tremors, and nobody is certain of the mechanism they could be using to do so2.

Another example is that some researchers have found that certain fish species can detect earthquakes by sensing changes in water pressure and seismic waves3.


Potassium Iodide Pills are a good measure for accidents at nuclear power plants

Potassium Iodide Pills

Potassium Iodide Pills are a good measure for accidents at nuclear power plants Potassium Iodide Pills are a great preparedness item if you are concerned about nuclear emergencies. They are cost effective, lightweight, and handy to have on hand if a public order is given to take them, so you do not need to go to a potentially crowded/overwhelmed distribution center. Potassium Iodide Pills are a proven way to reduce the risk of certain cancers after radiological emergencies.

What do Potassium Iodide Pills do?

Potassium Iodide is chemically known as KI and is a salt of stable iodine. Our bodies need small amounts of of stable iodine for our thyroid glands to function properly. If taken just prior, or shortly after, a radiological disaster it can block the thyroid glands from absorbing harmful radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine is often present in the water and air after some nuclear emergencies and can cause cancer and other conditions if absorbed. Children are especially at risk of developing thyroid cancer later in life if they were exposed to radioactive iodine in their youth. Because of this, children, pregnant women, and teens are usually given priority when administering potassium iodide.

If Potassium Iodide is taken, it is absorbed by the thyroid gland, effectively ‘filling it up’ to capacity and blocking harmful iodine from being absorbed. Your body then excretes the radioactive iodine harmlessly through your waste.

Will Potassium Iodide protect me completely in a nuclear emergency?

Unfortunately, potassium iodide is not a silver bullet offering 100% protection from all types of radiation (wouldn’t that be cool?) It only protects the thyroid gland, and only from radioactive iodines that have been inhaled or ingested. The most common way to be exposed to radioactive iodine is from emissions created during accidents at nuclear power plants, though they can also be released when a nuclear bomb is detonated.

If a nuclear emergency occurs, you will probably be notified promptly by officials through TV, radio, and social media. The best course is to listen to directions and take potassium iodide as directed. Potassium iodide pills are not a substitute for evacuation or proper sheltering in place procedures.

Radblock potassium iodide pills Are there risks when taking potassium iodide pills?

Potassium Iodide is generally considered a very low-risk medication, and the odds of side effects in healthy individuals is low. As with all medications, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before preparing with potassium iodide, especially if you have a pre-existing condition that effects your thyroid. Emergency officials agree that “the overall benefit during a nuclear emergency outweighs the risks of side effects.” These potential, usually mild, side effects include gastrointestinal effects or hypersensitivity reaction.

Where can I get Potassium Iodide Pills?

Look no further! Total Prepare offers RadBlock Potassium Iodide Pills here. The tablets have a 12 year shelf life and are a great way to gain peace of mind for those concerned about nuclear emergencies. RadBlock pills have been produced since 2003 and are Health Canada approved. This brand is the trusted go-to for many Canadian nuclear power organizations and providers, such as Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, and the Canadian Government.



Earthquake today icon of a house over cracking ground

An Earthquake TODAY? Would you know what to do?

If there was an earthquake today – right now – would you know what to do? While Canada does get its fair share of earthquakes, many Canadians are not prepared for them, or any other type of emergency. According to Statistics Canada, only 47% of Canadians have an emergency supply kit in their home. There were 22 “felt” earthquakes in Canada in 2022, and an average of 4000 total earthquakes in Canada annually. Combine that with the fact that Canada’s west coast sits on a locked fault line and is part of the Ring of Fire, and 47% starts to feel pretty low!

What to do if there is an earthquake today

During an earthquake it’s important to stay calm and follow the safety procedures outlined in your emergency plan, if you have one. Make sure to stay away from windows and outside walls and get under a sturdy table or desk if possible. Stay away from any heavy furniture or objects that could fall on you.

If you’re outdoors, move away from any buildings, trees, or other objects that could fall on you. Don’t try to run or drive during an earthquake, as this could be dangerous. Instead, find a clear area and stay there until the shaking stops. Always avoid downed power lines and don’t enter puddles that may hide liquification.

During the shaking, follow the Drop, Cover, Hold on, model:

  • Drop to the ground so you are as stable as possible.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture if possible. Protect your head and neck with one hand, and with the other…
  • Hold on! Grab hold of the furniture providing you cover, or whatever else might be around that is secure and sturdy.

If there is no sturdy furniture around, some of the safest places to shelter include:

  • In a hallway
  • Archways
  • The corners in a room

When the shaking stops

Once the earthquake ends, it’s important to check yourself and others for any injuries or signs of shock. Make sure to also check your home and the surrounding area for any damage. To help avoid injury, stay clear of windows or mirrors that can shatter, cupboards (especially in the kitchen) where objects can fall out, doorways, since they can slam shut on you, and near any objects that can fall on you. The kitchen can be an especially dangerous area with fridge doors opening and where sharp utensils can be thrown about. If your home has gas lines, watch for the smell of rotten eggs that could indicate a gas leak.

Tune into your emergency radio, TV channel, or social media account – wherever you can get information from officials. They should let you know if you need to take special precautions or evacuate. If you feel a significant earthquake, and live in a tsunami zone, don’t wait for officials, just get to high ground.

After an earthquake, aftershocks can occur. An aftershock is a smaller earthquake that can come within minutes or days of the main tremor. Aftershocks can be extremely dangerous, toppling things that have been weakened by the initial shaking. In an aftershock, follow the same guidelines set out above.


If there was an earthquake today, where would your household be? Are you all together, or in separate workplaces, schools, or day cares? If you were separated from your cell phone, the cell towers were damaged or overwhelmed, and power was out, how would you find out if they are alright? These are all questions that should be answered in an emergency plan.

Have three meeting places picked out: one outside your home (eg. end of the driveway), one in your neighbourhood (eg a neighbour’s house or nearby park), and one further away (eg grandma’s house or one of the children’s schools.) Always aim for the closest meeting spot, but go to the others if your routes are blocked. If you have to leave a meeting place, leave a message for anyone else that arrives letting them know where you have gone.

Why earthquake kits are recommended

While most towns and cities have well established emergency preparedness plans, the reality is that these aid agencies may not be able to reach you right away. In fact it can take several days and even when they do arrive, they are unlikely to have supplies and electricity for everyone. Emergency preparedness is a personal responsibility, after all.

Earthquakes can cause fires, power outages, and floods, along with damaging buildings and infrastructure directly. In many situations, it is not safe to re-enter a home after a major earthquake, making it dangerous to go in and gather crucial supplies or essentials. Because of this, it is recommended that every household keeps enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for at least a week in case of an emergency.

Having a kit is the third part of any good emergency preparedness strategy:

  1. Know the hazards
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Build a Kit

For details on how to build your own emergency kit, or what to look for when buying a professionally compiled kit, check out What You Need to Know About Emergency Survival Kits.

Fire Extinguishers: A Guide

What is a Fire Extinguisher and why would I need one?

Fire extinguishers are used to stop or contain small fires. They are not meant for fires that have grown too large, or that need the expertise of a fire brigade to put out. Considering that there are over 7000 residential fires reported in Canada each year, it’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher easily accessible in your home. Fire creates heat, toxic fumes, and smoke that can damage property and take lives – so it’s a sound investment! There are a few types of fire extinguishers: water, dry chemical powder, foam, or aerosol.

Do I need a fire extinguisher


Some fire extinguishers use air pressure or pump systems to shoot water or antifreeze mixes at a fire. These are most common in places where freezing is a concern, like in barns or outbuildings. Water-based extinguishers cool the burning material below its ignition point to put out a fire. This is effective against ‘common combustibles’ including wood, paper, fabrics, or furniture (class A fires). This type of fire extinguisher should not be used for grease or oil fires as it can push the oil around and spread the flames.

Chemical Powder / Dry Chemical

Dry chemical fire extinguishers discharge a powder containing a variety of chemicals designed to stop the chemical reaction that creates fire. There are various chemical mixes available for most classes of fire (more on fire classes below.) These are the most common type of extinguisher and usually look like a red metal cylinder with an attached hose and handle.


Foam extinguishers create a blanket of foam over a fire to prevent the flames from getting any oxygen. These can be used against the common combustibles fires we discussed before (paper, wood, furniture, etc) and on flammable or combustible liquids. This does not include cooking oils and grease as they have a higher burn point, but does include oil and gasoline.


Aerosol fire extinguishers use a similar method to chemical powder – breaking up the chemical reaction that creates fire. Condensed aerosol suppressants are sprayed to smother the fire. Aerosol options tend to have much easier clean up than the other options, and the containers are smaller and lightweight. Total Prepare carries a wonderful aerosol option – the Element E50 – if you’re looking for a recommended option!

The Element E50 Fire Extinguisher web banner

What are the Different Classes of Extinguishers and How Do They Work?

Fires are classified into different classes based on what they are burning. Fire extinguishers are designed around different classes of fire, so plan to have the right extinguisher to hand, depending on what kinds of fire are most likely. If you travel oversees, keep in mind the classifications are a little different – you may want to look them up before you go.

Element E50 Fire Extinguisher types of fires small

A Class A fire involves ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, furniture, and trash. These can be extinguished with plain water, or an extinguisher.

A Class B fire burns flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, kerosene and other petroleum products.

A Class C extinguisher is designed to put out electrical fires involving live wires or equipment that uses electricity for power. Water or foam extinguishers are not to be used on electrical fires as they can conduct electricity back to the user or spread a conductive layer of water on the floor that electricity can use to jump. Many fire fighting deaths have been caused by electric shock.

A Class D extinguisher is designed for use in a metal-working or chemical laboratory where the combustible materials might be metals or certain chemicals. Some elements burn on contact with water or air, which makes them tricky to fight! Happily, most people won’t need to deal with this kind of fire in day to day life.

A Class K extinguisher is designed for use on cooking oils with a high flash point such as almond oil and sesame oil. While these are technically flammable liquid fires (class B) they are denoted as a separate subclass the high flash points were important enough to recognize them separately. Fire blankets can be effective against these kinds of kitchen fires, as well as extinguishers. Never use water to avoid scattering the flame.

How to Choose the Best Type of Fire Extinguisher for Your Needs

As we have covered, there can be a lot of variation between one extinguisher and the next. When trying to figure out which is best for your household, there are a few things to consider:

1. Where do you need a fire extinguisher? 

The kitchen is always a good place to have an extinguisher, but will you need them in other areas of the home? If you have a fireplace, like to use candles in a certain room, or have a workshop/garage where fire is a possibility, they are good places to have a fire extinguisher handy. Think about which rooms need one, and which areas are close enough together that they could share.

2. What kind of fires would you expect?

Go through your list of rooms where a fire might occur. What might start the fire? What would be likely to burn? Look through the classes of fires above and mark down what classes you think you’ll need in each place. Commonly, people will have a class K extinguisher in the kitchen, and a combination A/B/C extinguishers in other areas – but consider your unique needs before deciding on a course of action.

3. Are you prepared to do regular maintenance?

All traditional fire extinguishers should be checked annually by a professional to make sure they are in good working order. They also expire (usually ~10 years) so be prepared to replace old canisters.

4. Total Prepare’s recommendation

As already mentioned, Total Prepare carries the Element E50 Fire Extinguisher. We don’t usually sell fire extinguishers, but we couldn’t help ourselves when we saw what this small yet mighty extinguisher could do. No mess, no expiration or maintenance, non-toxic, longggggggggg (5x others) discharge time, and extinguishes class A, B, C, and K fires. All of that and it’s a fraction of the size and weight of a traditional extinguisher? You can keep it in a hot car? Safe around kids and pets? Sign us up!

So, while we might be a little bias, we genuinely think this has to be one of the best extinguisher options on the market (if not THE best.) Want to learn more? You can see all the product details, or pick up a few for your home, here.

NOTE: If you’re looking for an extinguisher for a business, you’ll need a traditional canister extinguisher. Most regulations have not been updated to include anything that’s not contained in a metal cannister. Hopefully they’ll catch up to the latest innovations soon!

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Safely and Effectively?

It is important to know how to use a fire extinguisher in an emergency. The last thing you want is to get to a blaze, and then need to stop and read instructions. For traditional extinguishers, you will want to pull the pin on the extinguisher (it should have a little loop on it to make it easy.) Remove the pin completely. This breaks the tamper seal so the unit won’t work until this is done.

Next, aim the extinguisher’s nozzle at the fire’s base. Don’t shoot the top of the flames – the heart of the fire is at the bottom. Traditional extinguishers only discharge for around 10 seconds, so aiming first is really important!

Squeeze the trigger to start discharging your extinguisher’s contents (water, foam, or dry powder) and move the spray over the fire’s base in a sweeping motion.

A fire extinguisher can be used on small, contained fires. It should not be used on large or extreme fires. Fire extinguishers are designed for specific types of fire, so don’t use them for fires they are not designed for. In some cases this can make the fire worse or introduce new hazards.

When using a fire extinguisher, it is important that you read the instructions carefully because there may be additional safety precautions when using the extinguisher in certain situations such as when there is a gas leak or if you are below ground level.

Using the Element E50 Fire Extinguisher Safely and Effectively

Element E50 Fire Extinguisher how to use

The Element saves space by keeping it’s entire design in one small tube, so there are no nozzles or triggers. Simply remove and discard the cap, remove the striker from the bottom of the tube, and scratch the striker to the tip of the extinguisher. This will trigger the gas to begin pouring out and it can be aimed at the fire.

Because the Element uses a gas to deny the flames of oxygen, it’s best to create a cloud around the fire to prevent any new oxygen from reaching it. The Element has a long (50 second) discharge time, and it is best not to rush the process. Start at the outside of the fire and work your way in.

See the Element in action:

Thanks for reading!

Ration pack MRE meal ready to eat emergency food layout

Ration Packs and Emergency Food

What is a Ration Pack?

While the term ‘ration pack’ can include things like calorie or ration bars, people most often use it to refer to military-style rations. These are shelf-stable meals that are lightweight and portable. Perfect for soldiers on the move, but also great for first responders, emergency kits, emergency operation centers, and hiking. This style of meal can also be called: MRE – Meal Ready to Eat, field ration, combat ration, survival rations, or food packets.

Some ration packs come with canned goods, but many are packed in plastic and mylar pouches. Canadian military rations are packed into heavy-duty folding paper bags. Rations usually include several items like crackers, drink mixes, and an entree. Many countries have specific rations for their own military, though it can be more difficult to find these commercially.

Ration pack MRE meal ready to eat emergency food layout

Ration Packs for Emergency Preparedness

Many emergencies do not leave time for cooking. Power may be out, or kitchens may become inaccessible. In these cases, it is great to have ration packs on hand. Many countries use MREs and survival rations to supply people in need after disasters strike, and they are a favourite with people preparing their own households for emergencies.

A common practice is to store enough ration packs for the first 24-48 hours of an emergency. This gives you time to evacuate or set up alternative cooking solutions. After that, some people stick with MREs, while others swap over to freeze dried food. Ration packs are also popular with fire fighters during wildfire season, so they can keep their crews fed on the move.

Self-Heating Ration Packs?

Many of the MRE-style ration packs come complete with a Flameless Meal Heater. Just add water to the sachets and a chemical reaction creates heat! Watch your fingers during opening though, the steam is hot! The heater sits beside the sealed meal pouches and warms up the meal over several minutes. The heater itself produces warmth for quite a while after the meal is hot too, so they make excellent hand warmers. Since the heater never actually touches the food, you can use any type of liquid to activate it. Even snow!

When shopping for MREs and ration packs, keep in mind that some heaters produce a lot of odour, and some are hotter than others. Look for options that state low-odour and high heat in their descriptions.

Where to buy MREs and Emergency Food?

Total Prepare offers two great options for Meals Ready to Eat. We have our premium Total Prepare MRE, and the smaller XMRE. Both use low odour, high temperature heaters. Both options contain sides, drink mixes, accessories, a meal heater, and breakfasts/entrees. Want to see a Total Prepare MRE in action? Check out my lunch in the short video below!

Want to know more about the differences between our MRE brands? Check out the handy infographic below, or check out the product pages: TPMRE and XMRE.


MRE meals ready to eat tpmre XMRE comparison ration packs

*Please note that this infographic is correct as of posting and may not be updated (though we’ll do our best!) If you have any questions or concerns about MREs or other emergency products, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks for reading!

N95 mask made in Canada, worn by a brunette with kind eyes.

N95 Masks in Canada

What Is an N95 Mask? 3M Aura N95 mask respirator

An N95 mask is a specific classification of respirator mask. Like all respirators, it secures across the face and stops you from breathing harmful materials. N95 masks are certified to filter out at least 95% of air born particles. The specifications also require them to be breathable, putting limits on how much they can restrict overall air flow.

Fully certified N95 masks require the mask’s straps to loop around the back of the wearer’s head, however many people prefer a more comfortable ear loop design. Many companies have opted to create masks that meet (or exceed) the N95 standards, but with ear loops. This includes our very own Dentex, made in Canada, FN-N95 masks.

How is an N95 mask different from a surgical mask level 3? earloop face mask level 3

ASTM level 3 masks are an excellent option for protection. They are flexible and more comfortable than an N95 mask, but do they offer as much protection?

The certification for a level 3 mask only tests the material they’re made of. Because of this, ASTM level 3 masks can score almost as high as N95 masks when it comes to filtration. The biggest difference between the two masks, however, is fit.

N95 masks are designed to provide a snug, secure fit across many different face sizes. A properly fitted N95 mask lets in very little to no air around the edges of the mask. This means that air MUST pass through the filter before it reaches the wearer.

In contrast, ASTM level 3 masks are not tested for fit and air can enter around the masks edges. The USA CDC specifically calls out that “[surgical masks] do NOT provide the wearer with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles and is not considered respiratory protection.”

A surgical mask is best used to protect the wearer from “large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily fluid or other hazardous fluids. Protects the patient from the wearer’s respiratory emissions.”

Long story short: ASTM level 3 masks are great for keeping those around you safe from germs you might breathe but won’t always protect you from inbound hazards. N95 masks are still the best option if you’re looking for a disposable mask with a great fit.

When should I wear an N95 mask?

In Canada, we have seen A LOT of masks since the covid-19 pandemic began. This is because they are one of the best defenses against disease in general. They help to keep airborne germs from spreading, catch sneezes/yawns, and stop people from wiping their nose and then touching… well, everything.

Germs are everywhere, so when should you wear a mask? Wear a mask if:

  • Authorities advise it.
  • You’re in a place with people who may be carrying extra germs (ie a hospital)
  • You’re in close quarters with people during cold/flu season (or a pandemic)
  • If you need to enter a place where dust and other airborne hazards are a concern. (Ie: in and around damaged buildings.)
  • It makes you more comfortable.

Where to buy N95 masks? FN-N95 box of 10 face masks

Total Prepare carries masks! We carry ASTM level 3 masks and N95 masks – both made in Canada!

Our N95 masks include the more comfortable ear loop design, and thus are not NIOSH certified. Our Canadian face masks do, however, meet the filtration guidelines of Health Canada FFR, and the filtration requirements of the N95, FFP-2, and KF-94 standards. We like these masks because they are made in Canada by a certified Aboriginal Business, and a portion of each sale helps out the Canadian Cancer Society.

Plus, we just like the masks! They do a good job and are more comfortable than a lot of models we’ve tested.

Should I pack an N95 mask in my emergency kit?

Yes! They are economical, compact, and can make a major difference to your health! Floods and emergencies can create a perfect environment for disease to spread. Fires create ash and debris in the air. Damaged buildings can produce dust and asbestos into the air. Protecting your airways with an N95 mask is easy and a good step to protect your long-term lung health. Just note that N95 masks do not filter harmful gasses or chemicals – just particulates.

Are there other sizes available?

If you have a particularly large head or are fitting a mask for a child, we have good news! There are masks for you out there! Many brands sell large, extra-large, and child sizes. Due to a lack of demand, however, Total Prepare does not supply these at this time. For orders of more than 600 masks, email hello@totalprepare.ca and we may be able to special order different sizes. Often, different styles of mask from the same manufacturer will have a different fit, so you may want to try a few to ensure you get the best fit possible.

Where are they made?

All of Total Prepare’s masks are made in Canada. For other suppliers, some certifications will give you an idea of where a mask might be made. For example:

  • The N95 certification is a USA certification
  • N95 Masks can be made in any country, most commonly USA and Singapore
  • The CA-N95 certification is a Canadian standard
  • The KN95 certification is a Chinese standard

The “N95” name is the most recognized however, so many brands will use that and put the final certification in the product’s description.

How do you put on an N95 mask? N95 mask instructions

  • Securely fit the mask over your nose and mouth
  • Use the head straps or ear loops to hold the mask in place
  • The top of the mask should rest on the bridge of your nose
  • The bottom of the mask should extend past your chin

Do I need to fit test my N95 mask?

Professionals often require fit tests when using N95 masks: if you’re a nurse, welder, or other professional, you may need a fit test. Fit tests are not required for personal use, or for ASTM level 3 masks.

Fit tests usually involve wearing a testing hood over your head. The tester spritzes a bitter or sweet spray into the test hood. If you can taste it, the fit on your mask may not be good enough. Often there are two halves of the test, one before, and one after carrying out some tasks. This ensures the mask will stay in place, even while you work.


Thank you for reading!

Personal Supplies Kit with contents displayed

10 Overlooked Emergency Kit Items for 72+ Hours

Emergency kit checklists can be found all over the internet. Each has a new list of things to add to your emergency survival kit. Despite this, there are some items we see missing from almost every emergency kit that walks through our door. Whether you’re preparing for 72 hours or three months, here are some items to double check are in your emergency kit.

Our Top 10 Most Overlooked Items:

 #10 Manual Can Opener

can opener for an emergency kit

Regardless of how much food you have in your emergency kit, it’s a good idea to pack a manual can opener. Your pantry should be your first line of defense against hunger. Even if you have to evacuate, some warming centers, food banks, or neighbours, might be handing out cans rather than prepared meals. This hits home for me – a friend once had a can opener in his kit… then during a power outage he realized that maybe packing a plug-in electric model wasn’t the brightest idea!

#9 Notebook and Pencil

notepad and pencil for an emergency kit

These are a must have in any kit. Having somewhere to write down directions, to-do lists, and notes from any calls you make (think insurance broker). Notebooks can also be useful to leave messages for family members at meeting places if you are forced to move on. If nothing else, there’s always tic-tac-toe if you’re stuck somewhere for a while.

#8 Towel/Handkerchief/Bandana

bandana for emergency kit

Having a clean length of cloth around can come in surprisingly handy! You can use them as flags, towels, or (if there’s no first aid) bandages. Cover your head with it to keep heat stroke and sun burn at bay. Carry/pick up things in it. The possibilities are endless!

#7 Tools for Cooking/Eating

cooking pots for emergency kit

So many people stock up on premium 25 year long shelf life emergency foods when they visit us. We always make sure to remind them to pack a pot, cooking utensils, and eating utensils in their emergency kits too. It’s great to have food on hand, but it’s a lot better if you can actually prepare and serve it. Picking up a cooking pot and utensils from a thrift store is usually the best way to go for this. You won’t need your fancy china!

#6 Pet Emergency Kit

Don't forget to pack pet supplies into your emergency survival kit!

Fido is family too! This won’t apply to everyone, but if you have a pet you need to think through what will happen to them in an emergency. Packing leashes, carriers, food, water, and other supplies is critical. Make sure to include contact numbers and addresses for a couple of places that might be able to care for your pet if you need to board them for a week or so. For a better idea of what to pack, check out our other article on emergency pet kits here.

#5 Emergency Plan/Emergency Contacts


A folder with the cut-off words "emergency plan" on it.

Emergency plan or Disaster Preparedness on the desk.

If you have put together an emergency plan, make sure to keep a copy with your kit! Taking the time to pack away a list of websites, emails, and phone numbers for important contacts will save you so much headache if you need them. Include information for friends, insurance brokers, school offices, poison control – the list goes on! Don’t have an emergency plan yet? Check out the government’s guide on creating your own.

#4 Cash

Put cash in your emergency kit. Coins pictured but we recommend bills.

In a power outage, atms and card machines won’t work. Many emergencies like winter storms and earthquakes can knock out power for several days. Be sure to pack some cash in small bills to buy groceries, gas, and other essentials. How much to add to your emergency kit will depend on your personal needs. I generally consider $50/person a good rule of thumb for a 72 hour emergency kit.

#3 Hygiene Supplies

toothbrushes for emergency kit

It’s amazing how many people miss this! A humble toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, deodorant, and a comb can be a big deal in an emergency. They don’t take up much room, they aren’t expensive, and they can help you feel human when things are out of your control. When normalcy is in short supply, it’s the little things that count. Highly recommended!

#2 Change of Clothes

Clothes for an emergency kit.

In many emergencies, you are going to get wet. Floods, storms, burst pipes, and liquification (earthquake hazard) can soak you through in a matter of moments. For emergencies that aren’t traditionally water-related, it can always rain. Having something familiar, dry, and comfortable to change into can help you to avoid hypothermia and keeps you comfortable.

#1 Sanitation Supplies!

back-country sanitation/emergency toilet set for an emergency kit

Sometimes, you won’t have a working toilet. Plumbing is a fickle thing, and lots of factors can lead to a breakdown, even on a good day. Pack some toilet paper and hand sanitizer as a minimum to help prevent the spread of germs if you have to find alternate facilities. If you can, also pack a shovel and garbage bags. Want a complete solution? Check out our toilet set. Everybody poops – plan for it!

Wrap up:

What else do you think is overlooked in most emergency survival kits? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Earthquake in Indonesia 2022

5.6M Earthquake in Indonesia Kills 268

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia devastated the Cianjur region on Monday November 21, 2022. While earthquakes of this magnitude are not unusual for the country, the shallow epicenter (just 10km deep) and the lack of seismic infrastructure in the area multiplied the damage. The quake came at about 1:21pm, local time, destroying buildings and causing at least 268 deaths. Tragically, many of these deaths were children and young people studying in their classrooms.

The earthquake in Indonesia also caused a landslide in the village of Cijedil. The collapsed earth blocked roads and buried houses. In total, over 13,000 people went to evacuation centers after the quake, their homes destroyed. Even with shelter offered, however, thousands of people chose to spend the night in the open for fear of aftershocks. A valid fear, as there were 25 aftershocks in the first two hours after the tremor. Earthquake in Indonesia 2022

At least 50 schools were effected, and over 22,000 homes destroyed. Blocked roads kept rescuers from being able to reach those that were trapped in the rubble right away. Hospitals and clinics became quickly overwhelmed, with some hospitals converting their parking lots to make-shift treatment spaces and working without power.

An earthquake in Indonesia is not a rare occurrence as the country is located in the Ring of Fire. This area around the edges of the Pacific ocean is the most seismically active zone in the world. Dotted with volcanos and fault lines, it spans from Japan to Indonesia on one side, and along the western edge of North and South America on the other.

What can we learn from the earthquake in Indonesia?

The Ring of Fire includes the coast of BC in Canada. If you would like to learn more about earthquake risks in BC, we would highly recommend the Fault Lines podcast by the CBC. If you’re interested in learning about earthquake safety and planning, we also have a blog post on the subject. Educating ourselves about the best ways to prepare is one of the best ways to get prepared in case an event like the earthquake in Indonesia arrives on our doorstep.

Thank you for reading.

Incoming Food Shortages in Canada?

Food Shortages in Canada and the World

Canadians are lucky to live in a wealthy, stable country, but could we see food shortages in Canada in 2023? With Canadian food banks facing massive increases in demand since the covid-19 pandemic, many people are beginning to ask these questions. With factors stacking up, it’s looking likely that a global food shortage may be in store for 2023.

The Levels of Food Shortages

Before we jump into this topic, let’s quickly review the differences between types of food shortages. The terms ‘food shortage’ and ‘food insecurity’ are both used when there is not enough food to meet the needs of an area. The IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) classifies different levels of food insecurity as follows:

  • None/Minimal – People have enough to eat and their livelihoods are sustainable.
  • Stressed – There’s still enough food, but barely, and livelihoods are becoming stressed.
  • Crisis – Resources are becoming inadequate. Nutritional statuses are getting serious and we begin to see an increase in mortality rates.
  • Emergency – Resources are extremely depleted, and food availability and consumption become very inadequate.
  • Catastrophe/Famine – Livelihoods are described as ‘near collapse,’ and mortality rates are at their highest.

(Check out page 51 of their report to see more details about their classifications, or this article from World Vision for a more reader friendly summary.)

The Global Crises

According to the World Food Programme, “the world is facing a food crisis of unprecedented proportions, the largest in modern history.” They say that a total of 49 million people in 49 countries are teetering on the edge of famine (the worst kind of food shortage). Looking at overall food insecurity, 828 million people are going to bed hungry each night. That’s 10.6% of the world’s 7.8 billion people.

Food Shortage statistics. 1 in 10 people struggle with food insecurity. 49 Countries have a "concerning level of hunger"

Causes of Food Shortages

Conflict – In many high-hunger countries violent conflict is a major cause of food crisis. Land and assets are taken, destroyed, or have to be abandoned in these situations. Conflicts are often caused by economic or political turmoil that escalates to the boiling point.

Climate – floods, drought, and unseasonable freezing are on the rise globally. This can be devastating for farmers and families trying to maintain gardens, crops, and/or livestock.

Covid-19 Pandemic – Is there anything the pandemic hasn’t effected? In the case of food shortages in Canada and the world, the economic impact of covid-19 has made food more expensive. Often, this expense goes hand in hand with scarcity and empty shelves.

Cost of Aid – The World Food Programme reports a 44% increase in it’s monthly operating costs since 2019. This reflects price increases across the board. “The extra now spent on operating costs would have previously fed 4 million people for one month.”

Russia/Ukraine Conflict – Ukraine is one of the major grain producers in the world, exporting to feed millions of people worldwide. According to World Vision “by May 2022, Ukrainian farmers had 20 million tons of grain they could not get into international markets.” Russia also produces and exports large amounts of grain. They have frozen their trade with non-Soviet countries. While this effects countries reliant on their grain first (India, Egypt, Turkey, and China to name a few), the vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s immediate concerns are in fertilizer…

Will there be food shortages in Canada? Foodbanks food shortage in canada stats

Russia is a major global supplier of fertilizer, and the tariffs imposed on the import of it is worrying Canadian farmers. Mark Reusser, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture, spoke to the CBC about his concerns. Between the rising costs of fertilizer, fuel, crop protection products, land, and labour, growing food is becoming an expensive business.

If supplies are limited and crops are expensive to produce, Reusser predicts that farmers will begin to triage – prioritizing the crops that make the most money to sustain their livelihoods. This would lead to a big reduction in the variety that Canadians see on their supermarket shelves.

“I can’t predict the future. All I will say is that the supply of fertilizer right now is precarious, and we are very worried as farmers about the supply for the coming year, so that would be the crop year of 2023.”  – Mark Reusser

I’ll admit, this is a little worrying, especially when coupled with Canada’s Hunger Report, citing a 35% increase in visits to Canadian food banks between 2019 and 2022.

What can I do?

Magnificent question, brilliant reader! The best way to help others who are struggling with hunger is to donate to your local food banks, run a food drive, or donate to charities fighting to stop hunger. Every donation counts and puts food in empty bellies! If you want to organize a food drive, but don’t know where to start, check out this article by Rotary International.

Total Prepare can also help you to prepare yourself and your loved ones for the possibility of food shortages. Stocking up on shelf-stable emergency food is a great way to make sure that you have something to eat, even when the shelves are bare. Climate allowing, we also recommend starting a food garden to bulk up your pantry where possible. Legacy food is a personal favourite for their large serving sizes and great taste. A Combo Bucket was my first emergency food purchase, in fact! This one will last one person over 3 weeks, eating 2000 calories per day.

Thank you for reading!