Get prepared for a tsunami
Tsunamis are most often caused by huge undersea earthquakes that cause large waves. It may take hours for waves to reach the shore if an earthquake happens far away. Strong earthquakes near land could generate a tsunami that arrives in just minutes.
On this page:
- If you're near the coast and feel an earthquake
- Tsunami notification zones
- How to get information
- Types of tsunami alerts
If you feel an earthquake, and you're at the coast in an area without evacuation maps, plans or cell service, immediately move to at least 20 metres above sea level.
If you live in an at-risk community with evacuation plans:
- Move to high ground following your designated tsunami evacuation route
- Follow all instructions from local officials
- Stay on higher ground until you receive the "all clear" message from your local authority, tsunami waves can last several hours
- Never go to the beach to watch the waves. A tsunami can move faster than you can run
Our coastal communities are divided into five tsunami notification zones. Knowing your zone will help when a warning, advisory or watch is issued for your area. Use the maps below to identify your zone then check in with your local authority about your community's tsunami plan, evacuation routes and high ground locations.
- North coast and Haida Gwaii
- Central coast and northeast Vancouver Island coast including Kitimat, Bella Coola, and Port Hardy
- West coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew
- Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria (including the Saanich Peninsula)
- Strait of Georgia (including the Gulf Islands)
- Greater Vancouver and Johnstone Strait
Practice your tsunami evacuation route. High Ground Hike is a yearly event encouraging residents of coastal communities to practice getting to their high ground location.
If you live in a tsunami notification zone and a tsunami warning is issued, the warning will be broadcast across television, radio and compatible mobile devices through Alert Ready.
Your local authority may also have its own alerting system, including sirens, and will be sharing information via social media, phone, text message, door knocking, local radio and TV. Contact your local authority in advance to find out what will be used in your community.
Once a tsunami warning has been issued, it is important to follow directions from your local authorities. You should also follow official sources of information like Emergency Info BC.
|WARNING||Flood wave possible||Full evacuation suggested|
|ADVISORY||Strong currents likely||Stay away from the shore|
|WATCH||Danger level not yet known||Stay alert for more information|
|INFORMATION STATEMENT||Minor waves at most||No action suggested|
|CANCELLATION||Tidal gauges show no wave activity||Confirm safety of local areas|