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Earthquake in Canada:
The Risk Realities

Canada is not prepared for a major quake, new study warns

A new scientific study on the impacts of a major earthquake leaves no doubt that Canadians and the country as a whole are not prepared to handle a major earthquake, which could happen at any time.

The photo simulation (above) depicts damage to a bridge just east of Quebec City that, according to the study, could be expected as a result of a 7.1-magnitude quake in the region.

The study, commissioned by Insurance Bureau of Canada, estimates costs as a result of a large quake in the Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa corridor at almost $61 billion. The study also models a 9.0-magnitude quake in British Columbia; in that scenario, overall costs are estimated at almost $75 billion.

The study quantifies the amount of damage we can expect and demonstrates that a major quake would have a significant economic impact regionally as well as a domino effect on the entire Canadian economy.

The first major Canadian research of its kind in 20 years, the study was commissioned by IBC and conducted by AIR Worldwide, global experts in catastrophe modeling. The study is a peer-reviewed analysis of the impact of two major seismic events in:

  • British Columbia 
  • Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa corridor

Although the two seismic zones studied cover only a small fraction of Canada’s area, 40% of Canadians live within them.

The findings will help raise awareness and will serve as a valuable tool for governments, regulators, disaster preparedness organizations, the banking community, the insurance industry, and the public in planning for, and mitigating the risk of earthquakes in Canada.

IBC Top Ten: Tips to ensure you are prepared for an earthquake.

  1. Create an emergency kit and store it in a safe, accessible place.
    • Be sure to have a first aid kit, temporary shelter, water, food, a flashlight, a radio, batteries, essential medication, a fire extinguisher, a wrench and heavy-duty shoes.
    • The kit should last at least 72 hours and be updated annually. 
  2. Keep an emergency kit for your office
    • Keeping an emergency kit in your office is a good idea in case you are stuck there for an extended amount of time.
  3. Practice what to do in the event of an earthquake with your family members
    • Practice Drop, Cover Hold.
    • Review and practice your family’s emergency preparedness plan.
  4. Be sure your vehicle’s gas tank is at least ¼ full at all times
  5. Keep a pair of shoes and flashlight by all beds
  6. Secure large items that may fall
    • From bookcases, televisions and large decorations and equipment, be sure they are secure at home and work.
  7. Make sure you know and tag your water, power and gas shutoffs in your home.
    • Tell other family members their location and teach everyone how to shut them off in case of an emergency.
  8. Store water at home and work
    • Be sure to have 4 litres of water per family member for 5 days – don’t forget about your pets!
  9. Keep a battery operated or wind-up clock radio at home and at work
    • Be sure to keep extra batteries on hand and check to ensure it works annually.
  10. Speak with your insurance representative
    • Check your coverage, understand your policy and ask questions.
IBC Top 10 tips - to prepare for an earthquake
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