Mitigating the Impact of Earthquakes

On average, over 1,200 earthquakes hit Canada every year, making this part of the globe a seismic hotspot. Although not all of these earthquakes are actually felt or cause significant damage, it makes good sense for everyone who resides in Canada to be aware of ways to minimize the impact of earthquakes on people’s lives and properties.

Know the risks in your place

If you are new in the neighborhood, inquire from your neighbors, local council or insurance company the chances of having earthquake in your area. Have earthquakes ever occurred in your immediate area? What damages did it result? You can check also with your local authority about geo-hazard maps. If you reside in an earthquake prone area, here are a few tips on how you can mitigate the impact of earthquakes.

  • Make sure your insurance covers earthquake damage.
  • Make sure beds and chairs do not have hanging items above such as pot plants, mirrors, ceiling fans, chandeliers, and paintings.
  • Support freestanding furniture with brace such as water heaters and bookshelves.
  • Store breakables, hazardous liquids and heavy items on the lowermost shelves of cupboards.
  • Install strong latches to secure cupboard doors.
  • Prepare emergency kit that includes:
    • portable radio
    • torch or flashlight
    • 2 weeks supply of drinking water and foods
    • first aid kit with instruction manual
  • Designate a meeting place in case your family gets separated by an earthquake.
  • Know the safe spots in your home, workplace or school during an earthquake.
  • Post a list of emergency phone numbers, such as police, ambulance, fire, power/gas/water suppliers, near the telephone.

Here is a video about Demonstration of Drop, Cover, and Hold On by Los Angeles County Fire Department Firefighters

What to do during an earthquake

  • If indoors, remember drop-cover-hold to prevent injuries.
    • DROP down onto your knees and hands.
    • COVER your head and neck.
    • HOLD ON to a stable shelter (such as a table, bench or doorframe).
  • Stay away from overhead fittings, windows and chimneys.
  • If in a high-rise building, find a desk and cover under it, or hold on to an internal wall or a pillar.
  • Use the emergency exit stairs instead of the elevators.
  • If in crowded places, do not rush for the doors. Instead, look for a stable shelter and stay clear of falling debris.
  • If outside, avoid staying near building, walls, overhead structures, power lines, bridges, and trees.
  • If driving, pull over in an open area and wait for the shaking to stop. Beware of damaged roads, landslides and fallen power lines. Stay tuned to your car radio for updates from your local authority.

What to do after an earthquake

  • Beware of hazards.
  • Turn off water, gas and electricity. Check for possible leaks in your gas or fuel lines; do not light matches. Beware of damaged wiring.
  • Check for injuries and be ready to apply first aid. DO NOT attempt to move individuals with serious injuries unless in immediate danger.
  • Use the telephone only when necessary to avoid congesting the phone lines.
  • Inspect your home for damage/cracks, especially the walls, roof and chimneys.
  • Listen to your local authorities for announcements. Evacuate immediately if the building is severely damaged.
  • Be ready for aftershocks especially for strong earthquakes.
  • Stay calm.
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