Having grown up on Vancouver Island, the notion that an earthquake could be upon us at any time was a very real one. Earlier this month, many residents took part in the Great BC ShakeOut – a province-wide earthquake drill to teach us what we need to know during an earthquake. But what about after an earthquake?
Though it’s been a few decades since Vancouver Island has been significantly struck by a quake, this past weekend’s 7.7 magnitude quake near Haida Gwaii is a reminder that an earthquake can strike at any time.
Following Saturday night’s earthquake, much of Vancouver Island’s west coast was forced to evacuate due to the threat of a possible tsunami. While it’s incredibly fortunate that damage or injury were almost non-existent and a tsunami never materialized, an earthquake of that magnitude could have the potential to be incredibly devastating. Would you know what to do in the event of a larger earthquake or a tsunami?
Damage in Port Alberni following a 1964 tsunami. Source: Geological Survey of Canada
In some circumstances, immediate help isn’t always available. The Canadian Red Cross has assembled a list of items necessary to meet you and your family’s needs in the 72 hours following an earthquake:
Some further items to consider include: Change of clothing and footwear for each person, waterproof matches, a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person, garbage bags, toilet paper, basic tools, duct tape, plastic sheeting, hand sanitizer and person hygiene items as well as copies of family documentation.
For more information on earthquake preparedness, visit the Canadian Red Cross online. The BC government has also assembled some tips and ideas on being prepared as well as notable disaster response routes. If you live in a west-side coastal community such as Sooke, Port Alberni, Ucluelet or Tofino, make sure you’re familiar with your municipality’s tsunami evacuation procedures.