This month, we’re offering a three-part series of tips for preparing for any emergency. This week: Earthquakes and other natural disasters. On November 24: Home security. Previously: Fire.
We live in an earthquake zone and while there’s not much we can do to stop the planet’s tectonic plates from shifting, we can prepare ourselves and our homes for the next time the Richter scale starts jumping. Start by creating an emergency plan (learn how at PreparedBC.ca) then follow these tips.
Severe shaking can topple large furniture and appliances, toss heavy items from walls and shelves, and throw open cupboards. To prevent these things from happening:
- Secure tall, free-standing furniture, such as bookcases, cabinets and shelving, to wall studs.
- Move framed pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches and chairs.
- Secure cabinet doors with push or pull latches.
- Use strong strapping or other connectors to secure refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers.
- Anchor water heaters snugly to the wall with straps.
- If necessary, contract a licensed gas fitter to install a flexible gas line.
- You should know how to turn off your home’s electrical panel, water and gas valves in case of leaks or if you’re instructed to do so by local officials.
- If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the gas valve and leave immediately. Once the gas is shut off at the meter, don’t try to turn it back on — leave that to the professionals.
- Make sure your house number is visible from the street (even at night) in case emergency responders need to find it.
- Keep a rechargeable flashlight plugged into a socket by your bed.
- Review your home insurance policy on an annual basis to ensure you’re adequately protected. Contact your insurance representative or the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1 844 227-5422 for information regarding home insurance, including whether earthquake insurance is available to you.
In case an earthquake does hit:
When you feel the ground shake, immediately Drop, Cover and Hold On:
- Drop to your hands and knees — this prevents you from falling, but allows you to move if necessary. If you’re inside, stay inside. Don’t run outdoors or to other rooms.
- Cover your head and neck with your arm, take shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture or, if there is no shelter nearby, crawl to the nearest interior corner or wall.
- Hold On to your shelter, covering your head and neck until the shaking stops, and count to 60 before getting up. Once you do, move cautiously and beware of hazards.
- If you are near the coast when an earthquake occurs, Drop, Cover and Hold On then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake. Once at higher ground, stay there until local officials give you the “all clear.”
- Stay in your home if it’s safe to do so, but if your house has suffered considerable damage, leave immediately.
- Follow any evacuation or other orders from local authorities.
- Only call 911 for life-threatening emergencies. Always anticipate aftershocks.
- Be prepared by participating in the annual Great British Columbia ShakeOut. Register at www.shakeoutbc.ca