Prepare for earthquakes

Earthquakes occur when rocks break and slip along faults in the Earth and release energy. Seismic waves emanate out in all directions and cause the ground to shake, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away. A strong, damaging earthquake is often followed by aftershocks.  

Coastal British Columbia experiences the largest and most frequent Canadian earthquakes including offshore events that may cause tsunamis. The St. Lawrence and Ottawa River valleys of southern Quebec and southeastern Ontario are also at risk of dangerous earthquake shaking. Large earthquakes occur across Canada’s three northern territories. Atlantic Canada is also exposed to earthquakes and has experienced tsunamis. Earthquakes in the United States that occur near Canada in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, or the Atlantic Northeast may also cause shaking in Canada. Indigenous Peoples across Canada have passed down earthquake knowledge through oral tradition for thousands of years.

Why prepare for earthquakes

Earthquakes cannot be predicted. On average, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) locates more than 5,000 earthquakes each year in Canada, of which about 50 are felt, although damage is rare. Many people in Canada live in earthquake zones where destructive earthquakes may cause structural collapse, falling debris, landslides, fires, flooding, and tsunamis. Damage to critical infrastructure sectors pose additional threats and could slow down response and recovery.

What to do

Before an earthquake

If you live or travel in areas that are at risk of earthquakes, take steps to prepare yourself.

During an earthquake

Wherever you are when an earthquake is felt, take action immediately to protect yourself.

After an earthquake

Stay calm and assess the situation. Be prepared for aftershocks.

Where to start

You can protect members of your household and your residence by learning more about earthquakes and by taking proper precautions. Make sure that your household is prepared.


Earthquakes Canada

Learn about recent and historical earthquakes in Canada.

National Risk Profile

Learn about earthquake risk in Canada.

Earthquake Early Warning

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is developing a national Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system designed to enhance early detection and warning in areas of moderate to high earthquake hazard.

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