What to Do at Home During an Earthquake
Have you ever been through an earthquake? It’s very scary, especially if you were at home and not expecting it.
About 5,000 earthquakes, mostly minor, are observed annually in Canada. While any part of Canada is susceptible to earthquakes, British Columbia is especially vulnerable to devastating tremors. The valleys of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa rivers and several regions in the three northern territories are also vulnerable to earthquakes.
There have been at least nine powerful earthquakes of magnitudes greater than 7 in or around Canada. Just a handful have done a lot of harm. Even an earthquake of magnitude 6 may cause severe destruction in a populated area.
But don’t worry; there are some steps you can take to stay safe and protect yourself and your loved ones during an earthquake. But first, let’s consider what you should expect during an earthquake.
An Earthquake: What To Expect
During an earthquake, you will feel a shaking or trembling of the ground. You may also hear loud rumbling sounds like thunder, and light fixtures may shake as the quake progresses. Depending on its intensity, it may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.
In worse cases, earthquakes may cause buildings and other structures to shake and even collapse. It can disrupt communications and powerlines, open cracks in roads and pavements, and cause fires or floods.
Be Prepared, Have An Emergency Plan Before An Earthquake
Being prepared and having an emergency plan for an earthquake is your best defence. Make sure you and your family know the risks and what to do if one hit.
You should always be familiar with the safe spots in your home, such as doorways or any sturdy furniture that can provide some protection from falling objects. Securing heavy furniture such as bookcases, dressers, and appliances will reduce their chances of falling over.
It is also advisable to prepare an emergency kit containing non-perishable food and water, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and other essential items.
When An Earthquake Hits - What To Do
Drop, cover, and hold on
In the event of an earthquake, it is crucial to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. This 3 step process means you should drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or desk, and hold on until the shaking stops.
It is important to remember that you should not try to run or evacuate during an earthquake, as this can be dangerous. Instead, staying where you are and focusing on protecting yourself from falling debris and broken glass is best. Drop, Cover, and Hold On is a simple but effective way to keep yourself safe during an earthquake.
Stay inside until the trembling stops
If you’re in a sturdy building or structure, stay inside until the trembling stops. Staying inside is the best way to protect yourself from falling debris or being injured by collapsed walls or floors. If you’re in a high-rise building, move to a lower floor and avoid windows.
Once it is safe, check for injuries and then evaluate the damage. Turn off any water and gas lines to prevent further damage or leakages if it’s safe. If the building is unsafe, evacuate immediately and go to an open space until authorities can assess the damage.
If you're outside, move to a safe space
If you find yourself outside during an earthquake, moving to an open space away from buildings or power lines is important. Doing this will help reduce the risk of being injured by falling objects or being electrocuted. Stay in a crouched position until the shaking stops. This tactic will help protect your head and neck.
Once the shaking has stopped, carefully assess your surroundings before moving. Be on the lookout for damaged building foundations, downed power lines, and other hazards. If you can move safely, do so quickly and cautiously.
Remember to avoid driving if possible, as roads may have debris, blocked or damaged infrastructure. Instead, walk or bike if possible. Stay safe!
If you're in a car, pull over to the side of the road and stop
If you’re caught in a car during an earthquake, you must pull over and stop. Turn on your hazard lights so that other drivers will be aware of your presence, and try to find a clear area away from trees, buildings, or power lines.
Once you’ve stopped, remain in your car and hold on to the steering wheel. Holding on will protect you from being thrown around. Please wait until the shaking has stopped before driving again.
Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not sure it’s safe to drive, it’s always better to wait for help.
Stay calm and help others if they need it
It is essential to stay calm in an emergency situation. Be a good role model for those around you by remaining calm and level-headed. This manner will help everyone to keep calm and be able to think more clearly.
In addition, it is important to remember that not everyone reacts to emergency situations in the same way. Some people may become very panicked and upset, while others may seem completely calm.
It is important to be patient and understanding with those who are having a difficult time. By remaining calm and helping others, you can make a difficult situation just a little bit easier for everyone involved.
Drop, cover, and hold on. That’s the mantra to remember when an earthquake hits.
If you stay calm and follow these simple steps, you’ll be able to get through it. And once it’s over, check on your loved ones and see if they need help.
Earthquakes are scary, but if you’re prepared for them, they can be much easier to deal with.