Know what to do during and after an earthquake

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

Earthquakes happen without warning, and may be so strong that you will not be able to run or crawl. You may be knocked to the ground.

Be prepared by knowing what to during and after an earthquake.

What to expect

An earthquake can be a scary experience, with a lot of loud noise and unfamiliar movement. If you know what to expect during an earthquake, you will be less afraid, making it easier to keep yourself and your family safe.

During an earthquake:

  • There might be violent shaking, or some sudden thumps
  • Light fixtures will sway and furniture will shake and start to move across the floor
  • Tall, unsupported bookshelves and filing cabinets may fall over and unsecured items like televisions and china may fall from their shelves
  • Fire and burglar alarms will likely go off, and buildings may creak and groan

How to protect yourself during an earthquake

In a building

If you are indoors, stay indoors – do not run outside during an earthquake. Trying to run during an earthquake is dangerous. The ground is moving, which can cause you to fall and hurt yourself on debris or glass on the ground. At the same, glass, bricks, and other building materials may be falling. Stay calm, and don’t panic.

Get under a table — drop, cover, and hold on

The best way to protect yourself during an earthquake is to immediately "drop, cover, and hold on".

  1. Drop — Drop to the ground (before the earthquake knocks you down)
  2. Cover — Take cover, by getting under a sturdy desk or table
  3. Hold on — Grab the legs of the desk or table, and hold on until the shaking stops

Crouch in an inside corner of a room

If there is no table or desk near you, do not try to run to another room to get under a table. Instead, stay where you are, cover your face and head with your arms, and crouch in an inside corner of the room. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

Many studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the US over the past several decades show that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects - such as TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases - than to be killed in a collapsed building.

Avoid standing in a doorway

In modern homes, doorways are no stronger than the rest of the building. They also cannot protect you from falling or flying objects.

Do not follow the "triangle of life" method

This method advises against taking shelter under a table, and has been discredited by many leading experts.


If you are outside during an earthquake, stay outside, and move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

In a vehicle

If you are in a vehicle during an earthquake, stop and park in a clear location, away from buildings, bridges, and overpasses, and stay there until the shaking stops. Once it is safe to do so, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that may have been damaged.

What to do after an earthquake

After an earthquake you may experience aftershocks, which can occur minutes, hours, or even days after the earthquake.

Immediately after an earthquake and the shaking has stopped you should:

  • Move to high ground and away from water as an earthquake felt in Vancouver is likely to be accompanied by a tsunami
  • Look around to make sure it is safe to move and then exit the building
  • Check yourself and others for injuries, and help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate
  • Call for help.Be careful around broken glass and debris, and wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet
  • Check for the smell of gas, and if you smell gas, open all the windows and doors, leave immediately, and report it to the authorities
  • Look for fallen power lines
  • Look out for fire. It is the most common hazard after an earthquake. Look for and extinguish small fires. Be aware that the electricity supply could  be cut, and sprinklers and alarms in buildings may go off even if there is no fire
  • Stay out of damaged buildings, and return home only when deemed safe by authorities
  • Follow the emergency plan or the instructions of the person in charge at school or work
  • Keep informed:
    • Dial 9-1-1 only if a life is at stake – otherwise stay off your phones to help prevent telephone network overload
    • Tune in to local radio or television stations after an emergency or disaster for important information updates
    • Stay informed  and sign-up for Twitter alerts

Know the disaster response routes

Stay off any disaster response routes during an earthquake or other emergency.

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