Earthquakes - What to Do?

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This publication was produced by Public Safety Canada in collaboration with:
The Canadian Red Cross, Natural Resources Canada, and the St. John Ambulance.

Please note: Publications are not available in regular print format.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2011

Cat. No.: PS48-9/2-1-2011E
ISBN: 978-1-100-17948-3

Introduction

Approximately 5,000 earthquakes are recorded in Canada each year, most of them small ones.Whileearthquakes can occur in any Canadian region, British Columbia is most at risk from a major earthquake. Other areas prone to earthquakes are the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River valleys, as well as parts of the three northern territories.

In the past 100 years, at least nine earthquakes in or near Canada have registered a magnitude greater than 7. A few have caused extensive damage. Even a magnitude 6 earthquake could do extensive damage in a built-up area. In fact, a strong quake near one of Canada's major urban areas would likely be the most destructive natural disaster this country could experience.

Everyone has a responsibility to protect their homes and their families. Since no one can predict with certainty when an earthquake will happen, it is important to get prepared in advance. This involves three basic steps:

  1. Find out what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.
  2. Make a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go in case of an emergency.
  3. Get an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

Planning for an earthquake will also help prepare you for many other types of emergencies. After reading this guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit.

What to expect during an earthquake

Small or moderate earthquakes

Large earthquakes

Step 1: Know the Risks and Get Prepared

To get prepared for an earthquake, you should know the risks specific to your community and your region to help you better prepare. To find out what the hazards are in your region, visit the ‘Know the risks' section of the GetPrepared.ca website.

Before an Earthquake

Go through your home, imagining what could happen to each part of it, if shaken by a violent earthquake. Check off the items that you have completed in this list.

During an earthquake

Wherever you are when an earthquake starts, take cover immediately. Move a few steps to a nearby safe place if need be. Stay there until the shaking stops.

If you are indoors: “DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON”

If you are outdoors

If you are in a vehicle

AVOID the following in an earthquake

After an earthquake

Step 2: Make a plan

Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family to know what to do in case of an emergency. Remember, your family may not be together when an earthquake or other emergency occurs.

Start by discussing what could happen and what you should do at home, at school or at work if an earthquake strikes. To be prepared, make a list of what needs to be done ahead of time. Store important family documents, such as birth certificates, passports, wills, financial documents, insurance polities, etc. in waterproof container(s). Identify an appropriate out-of-town contact that can act as a central point of contact in an emergency.

Write down and exercise your plan with the entire family at least once a year. Make sure everybody has a copy and keeps it close at hand.

 For more information on making an emergency plan, call 1-800-O-Canada or visit GetPrepared.ca to download or complete an emergency plan online.

Step 3: Get an emergency kit

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

You may have some of the items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food and water. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark?

Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet. Make sure everyone in the household knows where the emergency kit is.

Basic emergency kit

You can purchase a pre-packaged emergency kit from the Canadian Red Cross at www.redcross.ca. Visit GetPrepared.ca or call 1-800-O-Canada for a list of additional emergency kit items, including a car emergency kit.

Resources

National Resources

Public Safety Canada - Other publications:

For more emergency preparedness information, visit GetPrepared.ca or follow @Get_Prepared on Twitter.

Provincial And Territorial Resources

For regional or local information on emergency preparedness, contact your emergency management organization as follows:

Alberta
Alberta Emergency Management Agency
Telephone: (780) 422-9000 / Toll-free: 310-0000
www.aema.alberta.ca

British Columbia
British Columbia Provincial Emergency Program
Telephone: (250) 952-4913 / Emergency: 1-800-663-3456
www.pep.bc.ca

Manitoba
Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization
Telephone: (204) 945-4772 / Toll-free: 1-888-267-8298
www.manitobaemo.ca

New Brunswick
New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization
Telephone: (506) 453-2133 / Toll-free 24 Hour line: 1-800-561-4034
http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/public_safety/emo.html

Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador Fire and Emergency Services
Telephone: (709) 729-3703
www.ma.gov.nl.ca/ma/fes

Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories Emergency Management Organization
Telephone: (867) 873-7538 / 24 Hour line: (867) 920-2303
http://www.maca.gov.nt.ca/home/for-community-governments/safety-emergencies/emergency-preparedness-for-community-governments/

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office
Telephone Toll-free 24 Hour line: 1-866-424-5620
www.gov.ns.ca/emo

Nunavut
Nunavut Emergency Management
Telephone: (867) 975-5403 / Toll-free 24 Hour line: 1-800-693-1666
http://cgs.gov.nu.ca/en/commEmergency.aspx

Ontario
Emergency Management Ontario
Telephone: (416) 314-3723 / Toll-free 24 Hour line: 1-877-314-3723
www.ontario.ca/emo

Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island Emergency Measures Organization
Telephone: (902) 894-0385 / After hours: (902) 892-9365
www.peipublicsafety.ca

Quebec
Quebec – Ministère de la sécurité publique
Telephone (toll-free): 1-866-644-6826
General information (Services Québec): 1-877-644-4545
www.securitepublique.gouv.qc.ca

Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Emergency Management Organization
Telephone: (306) 787-9563
www.gr.gov.sk.ca

Yukon
Yukon Emergency Measures Organization
Telephone: (867) 667-5220
Toll free (within the Yukon): 1-800-661-0408
www.community.gov.yk.ca/emo

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