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How To Be Earthquake Prepared: Tips To Keep Your Family and Home Safe

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When it comes to living in an area that is at risk from earthquakes—as Victoria is—it’s important to ensure you’re prepared and aware of the measures you may need to take in the event of an emergency. 

According to seismic experts, there is a 32% probability of a damaging earthquake occurring in our region in the next 50 years, with many other smaller ones occurring often, so so it’s a good idea to have a plan for what steps to take before, during, and after an earthquake. Here’s our guide to the best safety and preparation advice for earthquake preparedness. 

Protect The Contents Of Your Home 

Even if you aren’t worried about fragile objects falling and breaking, it’s vital that you take care when it comes to how an earthquake may shake up the contents of your home, no matter what they may be. Imagine shaking a snow globe, this is essentially what an earthquake can do to your home! 

This means that both your safety and the structural integrity of the rest of your home are at risk from falling and moving objects, especially larger and heavier items. Which is why it’s important to secure everything as an earthquake proofing step; never assume that items such as bookshelves and wardrobes are too heavy to be moved. 

A good way of deciding what to secure is to ensure that everything above knee level is secured in place, using bolts, putty, or other suitably stable methods. 

Safeguard Against Structural Damage 

Homes built in areas like Victoria that are subject to significant earthquake risks should always be built or designed to survive the effects of an earthquake. This means that they need to be up to date and in line with the latest codes when it comes to seismic safety. 

However this can be hard for homeowners to determine, and is especially true the more time has passed since you bought your home. That’s why it’s useful to think about consulting a professional engineer and hiring them to evaluate your home. 

They will look at a number of areas in order to make a thorough determination, and can advise you on both interior and exterior home repairs you may need to make in order to ensure your home is structurally sound.

It’s also worth checking if your home is bolted to the foundation, as this will help to minimize the structural damage that can be caused in the event of an earthquake. 

Another crucial part of earthquake proofing your home structurally is to check that all of your appliances are safely protected, as gas and water appliances can pose a significant safety risk. Make sure your water heater and other gas appliances are either bolted down or reinforced using flexible connections. You can also strap your water heater to a wall, as this will help keep it upright and prevent the pipes from rupturing during an earthquake. 

Make Sure Your Have A Plan 

Having a plan for what you will do in the event of an earthquake is absolutely essential. The last thing you need to be doing is panicking because you’re unsure of what you should be doing. 

Having a plan in place means that you can deal with any eventuality in a calm and safe manner. The most important part of this plan will be your earthquake kit!

Earthquake Emergency Kit 

You should have an individual 72-hour earthquake kit for every person in your home. This kit should have everything required to sustain each person for up to 72 hours in case supply chains are disrupted and the city is struggling. 

In addition it should also contain:

  • 2 liters of water to serve each person per day 
  • Copies of your ID 
  • Copies of relevant insurance policies 
  • Emergency blankets
  • Shelf stable and minimal prep food rations (such as peanut butter, instant noodles, cans, granola bars, and dried pasta)
  • Can opener
  • Flashlight 
  • Batteries and a battery-powered radio 
  • Toilet paper and other essential toiletries
  • Dust masks 

This kit should be checked at least once a year and food rotated out so you don’t end up needing to use 5 year old stale noodles! And of course don’t forget your pets.  Make sure you have several days of water, food, and medicines for them as well. 

If you have camping supplies such as sleeping bags and a camp stove, these can also be used as emergency items and should be kept easily accessible.  

In addition to physical resources, your earthquake plan should have clear steps for communication and coordination, especially in the event of power going out or essential services no longer being available. 

As you may not be in the same place as your family when the earthquake hits, this plan should also include details for where you will meet afterwards. And if you have children, make sure they know exactly what they’re meant to do and where they need to go. 

In the event you’re not at home when an earthquake hits, it’s important to know the disaster protocol at your place of work, and at your children’s school. And always have an emergency contact outside of the city who can relay information and help manage the situation. 

Refresh/Practice Your Earthquake Drills 

If you went to school in the Pacific Northwest it’s highly likely you will remember doing earthquake drills. If you didn't, it’s an important activity to practice. If you’re unsure about what you should be doing when an earthquake occurs, stage a drill and go through all the steps. This will include understanding how to use your emergency kits and supplies and knowing where both pets and the other people in your home should be directed in the event of an earthquake. 

This isn’t something you need to undertake alone however as there is an annual event—The Great British Columbia ShakeOut—which is geared towards helping people practice earthquake safety and preparedness. It’s aimed to encourage people, whether that’s at home, school, or at work, to update and review their plans and safety precautions.  https://www.shakeoutbc.ca/

It can seem daunting, but these are achievable and simple steps that ensure you and your family are prepared for any eventuality should an earthquake hit. Give yourself security and peace of mind going forward and create an earthquake plan. 

 

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