Earthquake

 
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Get current earthquake reports from Natural Resources Canada.
Check the world earthquake map for reported earthquakes.
If you felt an earthquake, submit a report to Earthquakes Canada.

British Columbia is located in a high-risk zone for earthquakes, and scientists have been predicting a large earthquake in this area for many years.  Over 1200 smaller earthquakes are recorded in BC every year, many of which are too small to be felt.  There are other risks with earthquakes as well- an earthquake near the coast lasting 20 seconds or more can generate a tsunami.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during an earthquake, identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can save lives and significantly reduce injuries and property damage.

What Will Happen During and After an Earthquake
When an earthquake occurs, your first warning may be a swaying sensation if you're in a building, accompanied by a sudden noise or roar.  Next, you will notice a vibration, quickly followed by a feeling of rolling, up, down, sideways and rotating.  It will be scary!  It may last a few seconds or go on for a few minutes.  The earth won't open up and swallow you, but you could be hurt by breaking glass, falling objects and heavy objects bouncing around.  Be prepared for aftershocks.

What You Can Do
Be Prepared
.  As in any other major emergency, one of the most important things you can do is be prepared.  Have an emergency kit ready that will provide the essentials for your family for up to 72 hours in case emergency responders cannot get to you right away.

In the event of an earthquake, remember the following tips:

  • Drop, Cover and Hold.  Drop, cover and hold is the most appropriate response to earthquake shaking in British Columbia.
    • Drop under some heavy furniture or into an alcove.
    • Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling objects and;
    • Hold on so that you remain covered.
  • Where to go.  Know the safe and dangerous places in your home to be during an earthquake.
    • Safe: Under heavy tables or desks; inside hallways; corners of rooms or archways.
    • Dangerous: near windows or mirrors; under any objects that can fall; the kitchen, where large appliances or contents of cupboards may move violently; and doorways, where the shaking may cause the door to slam on  you.
  • Find out how to shut off utilities and appliances.  Visit the Fortis BC website for tips on shutting off valves on appliances, or shutting off your gas meter. 
  • Insurance.  Check your insurance for earthquake coverage.  It will affect your loss and financial ability to recover after the earthquake.
  • Family safety when not at home.  Talk to your children or family about what to do if they are at home, school or if the quake separates your family.  Become familiar with your child's school earthquake plan.
  • Eliminating hazards.  Assess your home for structural stability and potential hazards in the event of an earthquake.
  • Special needs.  Plan for special needs for infants, the elderly or handicapped, in case pharmacies and other stores are closed for several days.  See a list of tips for the physically challenged in an earthquake.

    What to do after an earthquake
  • Check your home for structural damage or other hazards.  Check roof, chimneys and foundation.  If you suspect serious damage, turn off all utilities and leave the building.
  • Check yourself and others nearby for injuries.  Administer first aid if necessary.  The first help after an earthquake usually will come from family and friends.
  • Use a flashlight to check utilities and do not shut them off unless damaged.   Leaking gas will smell.  Don't light matches or turn on light switches unless you are sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids.
  • Seek sources of uncontaminated water.  You should keep a supply of water in your emergency kit, enough for each person in your family for 72 hours.  In an emergency, purify water by straining through a paper towel or several layers of clean cloth and boiling vigorously for at least six minutes.  There are also water purification tablets available for purchase which can be kept in your emergency kit.
  • Do not use barbeques, camp stoves, or unvented heaters indoors.
  • Do not flush the toilet if you suspect the sewer line is damaged.
  • Do not use the phone except in extreme emergencies, such as reporting a fire or severe injury.
  • Keep Disaster Response Routes open for emergency vehicles.

Q & A

What are Disaster Response Routes?

In an emergency, critical seconds can save lives. Disaster response route signs indicate routes that are designated for use by emergency personnel and are not for use by the general public during an emergency or disaster situation such as an earthquake. Familiarize yourself with local routes that display the following signage.  These routes are for Emergency Personnel only during an emergency.  This map displays all current Disaster Response Routes in the Lower Mainland.


Disaster response routes enable emergency services and supplies to move quickly to where the need is greatest. This includes transporting and treating sick and injured people, putting out fires, restoring water and electricity, and other critical services.
 
What does the Richter Scale mean?
The Richter Magnitude Scale, or more commonly, the Richter Scale, is an equation use to measure earthquake magnitude.

Will more shocks be felt after a strong earthquake?
For several hours, or even days, after a strongly felt earthquake, there may be more shocks.  But keep in mind these four facts:

  • In most cases, these shocks (called aftershocks) will be smaller; therefore, the vibrations will be weaker.
  • Aftershocks do not mean that a stronger earthquake is coming.
  • Aftershocks are normal; they show that the earth's crust is readjusting after the main earthquake.
  • The number of felt aftershocks is quite variable and thus cannot be predicted.  There might be several per day, or only several per week.
  • It is impossible to predict either the number or the magnitude of aftershocks that might occur.  These vary greatly from one region to another, according to many factors.

Learn More

Download this handy Emergency Survival Guide to keep in your wallet, purse, car or home.
Prepare for earthquake safety at GetPrepared.ca.