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Earthquake Protection

While earthquakes can’t be prevented, here’s how you can help avoid injury, minimize property damage and prepare to survive at least 72 hours without help.

Prepare your home and family

Here are a few precautions you can take to help prevent earthquake damage to your home and keep your family safe:

  • secure top-heavy furniture to walls to prevent them from tipping and keep heavy items on lower shelves

  • put anti-skid pads under electronic equipment and small appliances

  • place beds away from chimneys, windows and heavy pictures – close curtains and blinds to protect against falling broken window glass

  • use safety latches on cupboards to keep contents from spilling out

  • store flammable items and household chemicals in an outside shed or in a safe cupboard, away from any source of heat and where they can’t spill

  • reinforce ceiling joists around each chimney in the attic to help prevent bricks and mortar from falling through the ceiling

  • tie down your water heater and other appliances that could topple over and breakwater or gas lines

  • make digital copies and store birth certificates, passports, wills, financial documents and insurance policies in waterproof and fire-resistant containers

  • check for and repair home hazards – are roof tiles or shingles loose, are walls braced, is your home bolted to its foundations?

  • know how to use your fire extinguishers

  • practise an evacuation plan with your family

  • maintain an emergency kit that includes in-town and out-of-town contact information and alternate meeting locations if you can’t get home

  • talk to your children about what to do if they’re at school and know their school’s earthquake plan

  • keep outdoor clothing and sturdy shoes handy

  • know safe places in your home such as under heavy tables or desks, inside hallways, in corners of rooms or under archways

  • know dangerous places such as near windows or mirrors or under any objects that can fall, the kitchen and under doorways – shaking may cause the door to slam on you

Did you know?

There are a number of regions in Canada that are particularly susceptible to earthquakes including British Columbia (notably the southwest region), the Ottawa-Quebec region (along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River valleys) and parts of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

Understand earthquake insurance

Earthquake insurance is available as optional coverage and covers the loss or damage to your property and its contents caused by the shaking of the earth. Talk to your insurance representative and know that:

  • coverage for earthquake damage isn’t included in a standard home insurance policy but can be purchased as an optional, add-on to your existing policy

  • earthquake insurance is subject to a higher deductible

  • if an earthquake causes a gas main to break and ignite a fire, the resulting fire damage would be covered under a standard home insurance policy – subject to the legislation in your province or territory

  • in certain circumstances, homeowners who can’t return home due to insurable damage may be entitled to additional living expenses

  • earthquake coverage and business interruption insurance are also available for businesses

Stay safe during an earthquake

Wherever you are, take cover immediately. Find a safe space and stay put until the shaking stops. Follow these precautions during an earthquake:

  • drop, cover your head and hold on

  • get under a nearby heavy table or desk or take refuge in a hall, corner or under an archway

  • avoid doorways and areas near windows

  • if you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels and protect the back of your head and neck

  • if you're in an elevator during an earthquake, hit all of the floor buttons and get out of the elevator as soon as you can

  • if you're in a vehicle, drive away from buildings or off a bridge or overpass; pull over to the side of the road and stay inside your car – if safe to do so

  • if you’re outdoors, stay clear of buildings and wires and keep watch for any falling debris

  • remain in a protected place until the shaking stops - anticipate aftershocks soon after the first quake

  • tune to a local radio station for emergency instructions

After an earthquake

Remain calm. If you're able, take care of life-threatening situations first. Get your emergency kit and prepare to be on your own for 72 or more hours before help arrives.

  • check for injuries and administer first-aid as needed – after looking after your family, check on your neighbours

  • if you need assistance, place "HELP" signs in all of your windows

  • turn on your battery-powered, hand-cranked or car radio for broadcast emergency instructions

  • if safe to do so, check your home for structural damage and other hazards and secure it against intruders

    • don’t shut off utilities unless they are damaged

    • don’t light matches or turn on light switches unless you are sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids in the area

    • don’t flush the toilet if you suspect that nearby sewer lines may be broken

    • don't use your land-line telephone or vehicle, except in an extreme emergency

    • wear gloves, protective clothing and sturdy shoes

    • be cautious of debris, particularly broken glass

  • if you’re evacuating, bring your emergency kit with you and

    • stay at least 10 meters away from downed power lines

    • avoid waterfront areas due to the threat of large waves and strong currents

    • beware of secondary effects, such as landslides and flooding