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Hazards that could affect our city

Fire in downtown Vancouver

A major emergency or disaster in Vancouver is always a possibility. Know what threats you face at home, at work, and on the move.

To prepare yourself for earthquakes, floods, windstorms, and other hazards, follow the critical steps below.

Climate change exposes us to new hazards

The hazards we experience in Vancouver are changing due to climate change. It is causing changes in rainfall, flooding, and temperature, and this could lead to more frequent and severe emergencies.

We have a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to ensure that Vancouver remains a livable and resilient city. Also, we developed a hazard, risk, and vulnerability assessment that identifies and prioritizes hazards based on their likelihood and potential impact on people and property in Vancouver. This assessment is a key part of emergency management planning and response, and we will revise and update it as needed.

Hazards and how you can prepare

Earthquakes

Vancouver is located in active earthquake region that could be impacted by an earthquake at any moment.

Heat waves and extreme heat

A heat wave is when the temperature is at least 32 degrees Celsius for three days or more. Summers are expected to get hotter in Vancouver, and heat waves will be longer, more frequent, and more extreme.

Fires

House fires spread very fast and emit heavy smoke that can cause suffocation. Following an earthquake, broken gas lines and power lines may cause widespread fires.

Floods

Vancouver is susceptible to floods, and our rainstorms can cause localized flooding. During floods, homes and essential infrastructure may be damaged, sewers overflow, and public transit is disrupted. With climate change, expect more flooding – especially along the waterfront and street storm drains – due to sea level rise, more intense windstorms, and more frequent heavy rain.

Gas leaks

If you have natural gas in your home for cooking or heating, you may get a gas leak. When natural gas escapes during a leak, you would smell rotten eggs and hear the sound of escaping gas.

Hazardous materials

Vancouver has rigorous regulations for storing and handling hazardous materials, but spills may occur and damage the environment and injure people.

Landslides

In a few locations in Vancouver, steep bluffs and slopes may be at risk of landslides. The City conducts ongoing slope stabilization projects in higher risk locations, including rock scaling and drainage work.

Pandemics (human disease outbreaks)

Like any citizens near a large transportation hub, Vancouverites are susceptible to disease outbreaks at a regional or global scale. Pandemics can spread very quickly and pose higher risks to children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems.

Power outages

A power outage could happen at any time and can last minutes to days. 

Thunderstorms and lightning

Thunderstorms and lightning are very rare in Vancouver, but occur occasionally and can be accompanied by hail and high winds.

Tsunami waves

Tsunami waves grow in height as they near the shore, causing devastation for up to several hours. Although Vancouver is sheltered from Pacific Ocean tsunamis by Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula, we may be impacted by local tsunamis caused by earthquakes in the Strait of Georgia or by underwater landslides in the Fraser River delta.

Windstorms

Windstorms usually happen in Vancouver between October and February. They often bring high winds that can cause extensive damage (fallen branches, trees, and power lines), power outages, road closures. Wind warnings are issued when inland winds reach 60 km/h because of the potential for damage.

Winter storms

With ice storms causing significant, expensive damage in parts of Canada, it is important to be prepared for stormy weather in winter. Snow and freezing rain can cause major power outages and tree damage, and make driving and walking very unsafe.

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Free safety workshops

free safety workshop

The best way to stay safe during any emergency is to be prepared.

Take a free workshop, and learn exactly how to protect yourself, your family, your pets, and your property during earthquakes or other disasters.

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Emergency safety kits

Emergency safety kit

Did you know there is a 1 in 4 chance of a major earthquake in Vancouver within the next 50 years?

Be prepared, by creating emergency safety kits filled with supplies you will need if you are forced to evacuate your home.

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Get to know Vancouver's Disaster Response Routes

Know the disaster response routes

Stay off any disaster response routes during an earthquake or other emergency so emergency response personnel can access them.