Seismologists estimate that there are more than 2,500 earthquakes recorded each year across the country (Canada).
Hazards vary according to the area where you live and work. Canada’s West Coast is considered to be a high-risk zone for earthquakes, however, earthquakes can happen in virtually any region of Canada. It is recommended that you have a 72-hour Emergency Kit on hand and participate in regular drills with your family and co-workers. Have a plan!
Before an earthquake
You should plan for electricity, water, gas, and telephones not to be working after an earthquake. The police and fire departments are likely to be tied up and will expect residents to be self-sufficient for at least 72-hours - preferably prepared for a week.
- Prepare an emergency plan for your family and household. You’ll need food and water (at least 2 litres, ideally 4 litres, per person per day; a first aid kit; a fire extinguisher suitable for all types of fires; flashlights; a portable radio; extra batteries, blankets, clothes, shows and money (as ATMS may not work); medication; an adjustable or pipe wrench to turn off gas or water, if necessary; baby and pet food (and extra water); and an alternate cooking source (such as a barbecue or camp stove). This a general list that can be applied to other disasters as well.
- If you live alone, develop a plan for yourself, with links to neighbours and friends. It’s also a good idea to decide beforehand how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake and to conduct in-home practice drills. You might choose an out-of-the-area friend or relative that family members can call to check up on you.
- Know the safe places to be – and where not to be – in your home during an earthquake. Practice taking cover in the safe places. Secure water heaters, major appliances, and tall, heavy furniture to prevent them from toppling. Be sure to safely store hazardous or flammable liquids, heavy objects, and breakables on low shelves or in secure cabinets.
- Take a first aid course, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Discuss earthquake insurance with your agent. Depending on your financial situation and the value of your home, it may be worthwhile.
During an earthquake
DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON is widely accepted as the best response in an earthquake.
- DROP down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquake knocks you down). This position protects you from falling, but allows you to still move if necessary.
- COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, only then should you get down near an interior wall (or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you), and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
- HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.
- If you are indoors, stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture, fireplaces, and appliances. The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot. If you’re in an office building, stay away from windows and outside walls and do not use the elevator.
- If you are outside, get into the open. Stay clear of buildings, power lines or anything else that could fall on you. In the mountainous area, beware of the potential for landslides. Likewise, if you are near the ocean, be aware that tsunamis are associated with large earthquakes. Get to high ground!
- If you happen to be driving a vehicle when an earthquake occurs, slow down and pull over when it is safe to do so. Avoid, if possible, stopping under an overpass, on a bridge or beside power lines or tall buildings. Turn off the ignition, put on your hazards, and wait in your vehicle until the shaking stops. Once you resume travel, listen to the radio for direction and keep emergency response routes clear.
After an earthquake
Post-earthquake, observe your surroundings for unstable items that may pose a hazard if they were to fall. Check for fire or fire hazards. If you smell gas, shut off main gas valve. Assess whether or not you or those around you are injured. Unless there is a need for immediate medical attention, do not call 9-1-1.
It is best to keep phone lines clear as much as possible. To reassure and check on family, friends and co-workers, use text, email or other forms of social media. Social media outlets like Twitter are great tools to check on updates of the situation or better understand what occurred. Some good people to follow are:
Unless a risk has been identified in your home or workplace, it is safe to return to regular duties and activities.
Preparing for an earthquake or other emergency doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With some information, planning, and preparedness you can be well-equipped to respond appropriately and care for yourself and family for some time.
All you have to do is START!