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hyas to-to illahie : big earthquake

Every few centuries a major earthquake rocks the BC coast. The next quake could strike any time—but you can be ready.

before: Check your home for structural safety. Attach tall, heavy furniture to walls. Strap your hot water tank to the wall. Don’t sleep under uncurtained windows or large glass-framed pictures. Keep a flashlight handy and old shoes under your bed. Install baby latches on cupboard doors to keep cans, bottles and crockery from becoming UFOs in a quake. Put together “go bags” for your home and car, or buy earthquake kits. Keep your cell phone charged. Tell children where to meet and how to phone an out-of-province contact.

during: Duck, cover and hold. Get under something solid like a table and hold onto the legs. If it moves, go along for the ride. Crouch or lie in doorways, closets and corridors, but protect your head and fingers. A minute after the shaking stops, check your area for safety and look for family members or coworkers.

after: First aid, plentiful clean water and warmth are your primary needs after a quake, when you’ll probably be on your own for at least three days. Most people have at least a few days’ food in their kitchen; consider keeping high-energy snacks at work. Once the dust settles, counselling can help with post-traumatic stress, especially in children.

more info: Ask your local government for its earthquake pamphlet, search online or see Earthquake: Surviving the Big One by Susan Mayse (Lone Pine Press, 1992).