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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

How to keep cool during hot weather

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight and long-sleeved clothing, and apply sunscreen regularly.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and exercise.
  • Visit one of the City's air-conditioned libraries and community centres.
  • Fill up your water bottle at one of our drinking fountains, including temporary fountains that are set up during heat waves.

Learn the symptoms of heat illness and where you can keep cool

How to prepare for a fire

  • Make sure your smoke alarms are properly placed and functioning, and test them twice per year.
  • Plan ahead with your family: create a fire escape plan, identify a common meeting area, and practice your plan so that everyone knows what to do.
  • Consider installing a spark arrestor on your chimney, and keep your chimney, roof surfaces, and gutters clean.
  • Install flexible piping on gas appliances where possible to avoid gas leaks that could cause fires.
  • Know how to turn off the gas supply to your house.
  • Discard worn-out electrical cords and plugs.
  • Have wiring inspected if you live in an older house or apartment to prevent electrical fires.

Find out more about about fire safety

How to prepare and prevent a flood around your home

  • Replace your sewer system with new pipes.
  • Regularly clean your water service connection to maintain flow.
  • Keep storm drains clear of leaves and debris.
  • Monitor drainage near your property.
  • Seal basement walls to prevent seepage through any cracks. 
  • Install and maintain drain tile around your house.

Learn more about how you can prevent flooding

What to do if you detect a gas leak

  • Know where the shutoff valves are located.
  • Stop what you’re doing.
  • Do not use your cellphone or landline.
  • Don’t smoke, light matches, operate electrical switches, or create any other source of ignition.
  • Go outside. As you exit, leave open any windows and doors.
  • Report the leak once you get outside. Call FortisBC’s 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911, or call 9-1-1.

Find more information about gas leaks at Fortis BC 

What to do if you come across hazardous materials

  • Treat suspected hazardous materials spills with caution. Do not attempt to clean up hazardous materials on your own, as you could become ill or injured.
  • Notify appropriate authorities as soon as possible so they can carefully dispose or clean up the materials.

Situation or material  Who to call 
Immediate emergencies (fires, explosions) 9-1-1 
Spilled gasoline or oil 9-1-1 
Discarded needles  Needle Pick-up Hotline, 604-657-6561 
Abandoned waste (old paint, insulation, or asbestos-containing material)  3-1-1 
Biohazardous waste (medical waste, animal parts) 3-1-1 
Spilled or leaked unknown material 3-1-1 

How to protect your home from a landslide

  • Install and maintain drain tile around your home and property to avoid water pooling near slopes.
  • Build channels or deflection walls to direct the flow of water around buildings.
  • Install flexible pipe fittings where possible.
  • Repair leaks in irrigation pipes, drains, gutters, and swimming pools.
  • Plant ground cover on slopes.
  • Build retaining walls.
  • Comply with municipal building and development bylaws.

If you are located on or near steep slopes, take extra precautions to protect your property and consult a professional geotechnical expert.

How to avoid a flu pandemic

  • Get a seasonal flu shot.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Keep your hands away from your face – cough and sneeze into your arm.
  • Clean and disinfected frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs and hand rails.
  • Stay home and keep your distance from others if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Maintain a strong immune system with a good diet, exercise, and adequate sleep.
  • Stay informed about pandemics through official news sources and health authorities.

More information on how to keep safe

How to prepare for power outages

  • Have an emergency plan and ensure everyone in your household knows it.
  • Have blankets and flashlights.

What to do during power outages

  • Check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box to see if you are the only one with a power outage.
  • Report the outage to BC Hydro at 1-888-POWER-ON if you see that the power outage is widespread.
  • Turn off breakers in your fuse box or unplug appliances, computers, and other electronics to avoid damage when power is restored.
  • Do not use barbecues, camp stoves, or portable generators indoors to prevent the risk of an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check on your neighbours and offer assistance where possible. The elderly, people with disabilities, and families with young children may need additional help.
  • Do not go near or touch a fallen power line. It could be energized and you could be electrocuted. Stay at least ten metres away and call 1-888-POWER-ON to report the exact location.
  • Listen to local radio stations and check BC Hydro's website for power outage information, including how long it will take to get power back.  

Find out more about current power outages and how to prepare for a power outage from BC Hydro  

How to prepare for thunderstorms

  • Consider installing lightning rods on your roof, which carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts safely to the ground, greatly reducing the chance of a lightning-induced fire.
  • Trim back dead or weak branches from around your house, and have trees on your property assessed by a licensed arborist if you have any concerns.

What to do during thunderstorms

  • Take shelter inside.
  • Stay away from the water. 

How to prepare for tsunamis if you are near the shore

  • Get to high ground when it is safe to move.
  • Do not go near the shore to watch a tsunami.
  • Listen to local media, or follow the City and the Province of BC on Twitter.

View the tsunami zones of BC 

View a video on the basics of a tsunami 

How to prepare for windstorms

  • Trim back dead or weak branches from trees around your home.
  • Have trees on your property assessed by a licensed arborist if you have any concerns.
  • Secure loose items like patio furniture and garbage cans.

What to do during a windstorm

  • Pay attention to wind warnings.
  • Stay inside and avoid driving during high winds.

How to prepare for winter storms

  • Keep essential supplies on hand, including food and water if the power goes out.
  • Know how to shut off water valves in case pipes burst from freezing temperatures.
  • Equip your car with winter tires, tire chains, and an emergency kit.

What to do during winter storms

  • Dress warmly.
  • Check weather conditions from Environment Canada, local media outlets, or the City's website and Twitter feed.
  • Check road conditions if you plan to drive.
  • Clear snow and ice from the sidewalks surrounding your property.

Learn how the City keeps our streets clear during winter storms

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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.

Get instructions

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.