Get Prepared for an Earthquake in British Columbia

An illustration of an earthquake

Earthquakes are common in B.C., with an average of 3,000 reported each year. Most are too small to be felt, but earthquakes strong enough to cause structural damage can occur once per decade. There is a good chance one of these could be “the big one".

The most at-risk areas are along the west coast of the province, where the additional threat of a destructive tsunami is also very real. It’s important to take time to prepare and understand what to do before, during and after a major earthquake. Download the PreparedBC: Earthquake and Tsunami Guide (PDF, 1.52MB) and get ready today. 

Earthquake and Tsunami Guide (PDF 1.5MB) 

What to do Before an Earthquake

What to do During an Earthquake

When you feel the ground shake, immediately drop, cover and hold on.

  1.   Drop to your hands and knees. If you’re inside, stay inside – don’t run outdoors or to other rooms.

  2.   Cover your head and neck with your arm and take shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture. If there is no shelter nearby, crawl to the nearest interior corner or wall while continuing to protect your head and neck.

  3.   Hold on to your shelter, covering your head and neck until the shaking stops.

Drop Cover Hold On

What to do After an Earthquake

  • When the earthquake is over and shaking has stopped, count to 60 before getting up.
  • Stay calm and move cautiously, checking for unstable objects and other hazards above and around you.
  • Be aware of the potential for aftershocks - and continue to drop, cover and hold on every time you feel one.

What to do if you’re…


In a wheelchair


In bed

  • Hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow or blanket. You are less likely to be injured in bed where you are shielded from flying objects and broken glass. Most injuries occur when people try to run for cover.


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.


In a stadium or theatre


In a store





  • Pull over, 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. Learn earthquake actions for when you are driving (PDF)


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.