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Are You Prepared for An Earthquake?

Once again, Vancouver Island was issued a tsunami warning, but luckily it was not too serious. But I bet it got you thinking about how prepared you are in the case of a tsunami and/or earthquake. 

Wait, there was an earthquake?

For once, it was not an earthquake. On January 15, 2022, an underwater volcano erupted near Tonga. The eruption caused concern, and a warning was issued to the coastal regions of Vancouver Island and the mainland. The warning was cancelled the same day and luckily no tsunami occurred. 

The next warning could be a serious one

So the tsunami didn’t happen, and we are all safe. But what if it did happen? And what if instead of a volcanic eruption that caused it, it was a 7 or higher earthquake? 

In this case, it’s important to be prepared.

Here’s what you’ll need to help prepare for an earthquake

An Earthquake Preparedness Kit

It may take a couple of days for supplies to reach the island, so make sure you and your family are prepared to live on your own supplies for 3 days to a week. Here are some items you can put in your earthquake kit.

1. Water

You will need water for hydration and sanitation. Each person will need 4 litres a day. Please note, the water pipes in your home could be broken, so make sure you have jugs of water on hand. It wouldn’t hurt to look into water purification methods either, ie: Lifestraw, or water purification tablets.

2. Non-perishable food

You will need non-perishable food for 3 days to a week. Some examples include: dehydrated meats (jerky), canned items (fruits, veggies, stews, soups, meat), dried fruit, crackers, non-perishable beverages, protein bars, and freeze-dried meals.

3. Manual can-opener

You will likely have some canned items along with your non-perishable food. Make sure you have a manual can-opener on hand, so you can eat!

4. Phone Charger and/or Power Bank

You can buy solar-powered power banks.

5. Battery powered or hand-crank radio

You may not have electricity after an earthquake. A radio will be useful in order to connect you back to the world. Radios will be used to let citizens know of important news, incoming supplies, evacuation protocols, and all other vital information.

6. Battery powered or hand crank flashlight

Some other useful light sources: battery-powered headlamps to free your hands, and power failure lights to restore light in your house.

7. Batteries

Take note of all the battery powered items and make sure you have replacement batteries for those items.

8. Dust Masks

We all probably have these in our households by now. Make sure you put some in your emergency kit. Earthquakes will cause some older buildings to fall and stir up dust. 

9. First Aid Kit

Most pharmacies have first aid kits, you can also build your own. Don’t forget to include your medications in the kit.

10. Toiletries and personal items

This could include: tooth brush/toothpaste, sanitary napkins, hand sanitizer, shampoo, soap, contact lens, toilet paper, garbage bags, etc.

11. Copies of Important Documents

Hopefully you will have your wallet on you when the earthquake happens, but just in case you don’t, make sure you have copies of your identification and any other significant documents you may need with you. 

12. Cash

Have cash in small bills on hand.

13. Extra clothes + shoes

Include clothes for different seasons and a pair of shoes. There will likely be glass and rubble after a major earthquake, so shoes are extra important, even for indoors. 

14. Whistle and OK/HELP sign

You may need help, but for one reason or another you can’t go out and get help. A whistle is useful to signal to people to come to you. You can also print off an OK/HELP sign here and display in on your window to signal whether you require assistance.

15: Emergency blanket

In the case you are in the winter months and stuck without heat. 

16: Any other items you may find useful in an emergency

This could include matches, lighter, utensils, Swiss army knife etc.

A Grab-and-Go Bag

In some cases, you may need to evacuate your home immediately, and depending on how big your preparedness kit is, you may not be able to bring it. In this case, it is good to have a grab and go bag on hand. Here are some items you can put in your grab-and-go bag:

  • Non-perishable food and a sealed water bottle
  • Water purification tablets or life straw
  • Battery powered or hand crank radio
  • Battery powered or handbrake flashlight
  • Batteries
  • small first aid kit with your medications and contact lens 
  • Personal toiletries
  • Copies of important documents
  • Cash 
  • Extra clothing
  • Lightweight emergency blanket
  • Pen and notepad
  • Whistle
  • Matches

Make sure each house member has their own grab-and-go bag.

An Earthquake Plan

Take some time to coordinate with your household members about what to do in the case of an earthquake. Here are some things to consider

  • Determine an out-of-province emergency contact. A person who will not be affected by the earthquake that you all can communicate with. 
  • Where to meet if you are separated 
  • Think of all the possible places you could be when the earthquake strikes, and think of how you will respond to the earthquake in those places. Possible places could be: at home, sleeping in bed, in a car, at work, outside, or at school. 
  • Write down your plan and put it in the earthquake kit 
  • Determine which zones are the major tsunami zones (Tofino for example), and map out safer higher ground areas to retreat to. 

Take your earthquake plan a step further and coordinate with your neighbours!

And that’s it for items you need for preparation! Next let’s look at some helpful tips. 

On a budget?

You can buy a ready-to-go earthquake kit and go-bag, but those can be quite pricey. Here are some tips if you are on a budget. 

  • You do not need to buy all of your emergency supplies at once, this can be pricey and overwhelming. Instead, buy emergency items at your leisure, one at a time as you have the funds. Wait for individual items to go on sale and buy them.
  • Buy your go-bag, duffle bag, or bins secondhand. Some good local places to buy secondhand in Victoria are: WIN, Value Village, or even through Facebook marketplace. 
  • Next time you do a closet clean out, take some of your rarely worn items and put them in the emergency kit instead of buying new clothes to put in. Do the same with shoes.

Want to go the extra mile?

So you have a kit, (maybe even multiple kits!), you have an earthquake plan, and you’ve communicated and coordinated that plan with your family and neighbours. Now what?

If you are still itching to up your preparedness, consider taking a first aid course! A little first aid knowledge can go a long way. With first aid training, you will be able to help those in need around you and take some pressure off of the urgent care facilities.

Tips & Notes

  • Putting an earthquake kit together? Check your camp gear! You may already have a bunch of useful items there.
  • Make sure your house has a fire extinguisher, fire detector, and carbon monoxide detector. 
  • If you decide to use your camp stove in an emergency situation, make sure to do so outside, since camp stoves emit carbon monoxide. 
  • Secure heavy items (bookshelves, T.Vs etc) to the walls.
  • Consider putting some emergency items/ a grab-and-go bag in your car.

Conclusion

Talking about earthquakes is scary, but don’t sweat the things you can’t control. All we can do is prepare as much as possible and go on with our lives. We hope the tips above have helped you better prepare for an emergency situation. 

And remember, you do not need to get all of these preparedness items now. Take your time and get one item at a time, this will make the task seem less daunting!

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