Get Prepared for an Earthquake in British Columbia
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.
- Be prepared to be on your own for a minimum of three days to one week by developing your emergency plan, putting together your emergency kit and connecting with your neighbours (PDF, 2.55MB).
- Take part in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut earthquake drill every October and practice what to do when the ground starts shaking.
When you feel the ground shake, immediately drop, cover and hold on.
Drop to your hands and knees. If you’re inside, stay inside – don’t run outdoors or to other rooms.
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.
- Hold on to your shelter, covering your head and neck until the shaking stops.
- 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
Lock your wheels and remain in place until the shaking stops. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available. Learn earthquake actions for individuals with disabilities (PDF).
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
Stay at your seat , bending over to protect your head and neck, or drop to the floor between rows if there's room. Don’t move until the shaking is over. When it stops, walk out slowly, following directions from officials. Remember to drop, cover and hold on during aftershocks. Learn earthquake actions for staff and guests at stadiums and theatres (PDF).
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. Learn earthquake actions for stores and retail environments (PDF).
Drop, cover and hold on. Move to a clear area only if you can safely do so. Avoid buildings, power lines, trees, signs, vehicles and other hazards. Learn earthquake actions for outdoor environments (PDF).
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.