Earthquakes

B.C. is considered a high-risk earthquake zone, so be prepared to be on your own for a minimum of 72 hours by developing a household plan, putting together your emergency kit and connecting with your neighbours. By planning ahead and practicing drills, you and your family will know what to do.

During an earthquake... drop, cover and hold on

If you are inside, stay inside. DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking.

  • 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.

What do I do if...

I'm in a wheelchair?

  • Lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.

I'm in bed?

  • Hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow or blanket. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.

I'm in a high-rise?

  • Immediately drop, cover and hold on. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.

I'm in a stadium or theatre?

  • Stay at your seat or drop to the floor between rows and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly, watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.

I'm in a store?

  • Immediately drop cover and hold on. If you must move to get away from heavy items on high shelves, drop to the ground first and crawl only the shortest distance necessary.

I'm outside?

  • Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid buildings, power lines, trees, signs, vehicles and other hazards. 

I'm driving?

  • Pull over to the side of the road, stop and set the handbrake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.

I'm near the shore or on the beach?

  • Drop, cover, and hold on until the shaking stops. If the shaking is severe and you are in a tsunami risk area, immediately evacuate to high ground. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.

Information provided by Earthquake Country Alliance.

After the Shaking Stops

When an earthquake is over, it’s important to stay calm and move cautiously, checking for unstable objects and other hazards above and around you. If you are injured, treat yourself first and then assist others. Also, be aware of the potential for aftershocks - and continue to drop, cover and hold on if you feel them.

Do not call 9-1-1 unless a life is at stake.

Learn more by reading the Earthquake and Tsunami Smart Manual (PDF, 1.94MB).

Drop, Cover, Hold On

Drop, Cover, Hold On

Make drop, cover and hold on second nature by practicing regular earthquake drills with all household members. But if you only find time once a year, do it during the Great British Columbia ShakeOut drill, held on the third Thursday of October every year. Register at ShakeOutBC.

B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan

We all need to plan for emergencies, even businesses and all levels of government. The B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan outlines the Province’s initial response to a catastrophic earthquake.

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