Friday, January 22, 2010

How Prepared are You for an Earthquake?

In the wake of the Haiti earthquake I thought I would post something here to get people to think about how prepared you are for an earthquake here in Victoria.

The last major earthquake that hit Vancouver Island was June 23rd 1946. At a magnitude of 7.3, this earthquake was stronger than the Haitian one. The location was at Forbidden Plateau. Roads and houses on Vancouver Island were destroyed. Damage happened in Vancouver and Victoria and even in Washington state. Texada island was hit with a 2m high tsunami.

There have been other ones on the coast here.

One on December 16, 1918 close to Nootka Sound at M6.9

On Janaury 27th 1700 there was an estimated M9 earthquake of the western edge of Vancouver Island - that makes one of the biggest earthquakes anywhere at anytime. Alaska had an even stronger on March 27th 1964.

May 26th 1929 M7 on Haida Gwaii

August 22 1949 M8 Haida Gwaii this earthquake was the power of 31 Haiti earthquakes. If this had happened in this area, odds Victoria would have been flattened.

Feb 28 2001 M6.8 in Puget Sound. I felt this one in Ladner, the Safeway I was in in had cans falling all over the store.

We are clearly in an area that gets big earthquakes, some of the largest on earth.

First thing you can do is look at the Victoria earthquake maps and figure out your relative risk.

Next, how much water and food do you have? Can you last for a week in your house without power and gas? Two water s0urces in every house that few people think of are the hot water tank and the toilet reservoir, the part that activates when you flush.

Food for a week is not hard to have on hand if you have such things as granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, jams, canned vegetables. Your diet is boring, but you can last for the week with 'snacks', no need to have anything special set aside.

Do you know where emergency supplies are kept in your neighbourhood? See the container in the field with Esquimalt Rugby on it? These containers at schools are filled with emergency supplies

View Larger Map

Do you know first aid? If you do not, do know your closest neighbours that do? If you know first aid, have you told people that live near you?

Do you know if the building you work in is safe in an earthquake? Do you know who to ask to know the answer?

Does your work have a plan for an earthquake?

What is your home plan for an earthquake?

Do you know how to turn off the natural gas to your house? If the answer is no, learn now.

What you should have on hand:
  • Water and food to last up to a week
  • First Aid kit - nothing fancy is needed
  • Flashlights - the new LED ones are dirt cheap and the batteries last forvever
  • Fire extinguisher - you should have one in your house in any case
  • Basic camping gear - easy for those of us that camp, but the rest of you should consider buying some.

It is almost inevitable that we will see a very large earthquake in this region within a human lifetime. How well do you think we as a city are prepared?
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