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Earthquake Safety Rules to Follow

If you live along the coast of BC, you are probably aware that we are in fact in a seismically active zone.

About 500 earthquakes occur every year in BC alone, yet most of those are minor and not felt by residents. However, geologists have long predicted a major earthquake being overdue to our region and our provincial government has been urging citizens to be prepared.

There are several steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family before a major earthquake occurs, such as getting your emergency earthquake kit together. However, it is equally important (if not more important) to know the safety steps to follow during an earthquake to protect your life.

This post will help you with different scenarios that you may find yourself in when a major earthquake strikes, and the safety rules to follow. There are a few key safety measures you can take to protect your life and avoid severe injuries.

Earthquake Safety Rules to Follow if you are...

Inside a building or home

The key phrase to remember is “DROP, TAKE COVER and HOLD ON.”

Drop immediately to the ground, before you are thrown to the ground. Find something sturdy like a table to quickly get under and protect yourself from falling objects. Hold on with one hand and cover your head with the other hand until the shaking stops.

So I shouldn’t run out of my house or office? No.

It may be the instinct to run outside, but it is very dangerous to try to move anywhere during an earthquake. There will be furniture shifting, items falling, debris, and broken glass scattered.

The safest place to be during an earthquake is on the ground where you are and under a table or something sturdy. If you are unable to find a covering, getting to the interior wall of the room you are in is recommended.

In a kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places to be due to the pots, pans, knives, dishes, and other hazardous items. If you are using a gas stove, turn it off immediately. Then get out of the kitchen and under the nearest table.

In an elevator

Hit all floor buttons and exit immediately whenever the door opens.

In your bed

Stay in the bed and cover your head with a pillow. Studies have shown that many injuries could have been prevented had people remained in their beds.

In an office

Get under your desk and hold on.

Driving in your car

Don’t panic. Be aware of your surroundings and other cars on the road. Slow down and pull over when it is safe to do so. If possible, avoid bridges, overpasses, and tunnels. Also, avoid pulling over near large power lines, signs, trees, and light posts.


If you are outside during an earthquake, look for an open area away from buildings, windows, signs, light posts, power lines, and other hazardous structures.

Wheelchair bound

If you are in a wheelchair, turn away from windows, bookshelves, and other hazards. Lock the wheels. If possible, grab a nearby pillow or book or something to help protect your head.

For more information on Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities, visit our resources page.

In all earthquake scenarios, count to 60 seconds once the shaking stops.

This will help calm you down and help ensure the earthquake is over. However, aftershocks may occur minutes or hours after the major quake and may continue to affect the structures of buildings, causing more items to fall.

Once you have counted to 60 seconds, check for injuries. You may then exit the building you are in if it's safe to do so, and get into an open area.

Tsunami Earthquake Advice

If you live in a tsunami risk area, it is vital that you get to high ground as soon as the shaking stops. Always assume a tsunami will strike following an earthquake and take extra safety measures during and after the quake.

Final Earthquake Safety Tip:

We suggest every day or every week, while you are going about your day, take a moment to run through one earthquake scenario in your mind. For example: "If i was in this room in my house and an earthquake happened right now what would I do?" Imagine yourself getting down under a table or physically practice doing it. This will only take a minute. The more you do this, the more prepared you will be for any situation. And the less likely you will be to panic and run out of the building. Remember, to stay safe during an earthquake, follow the drop, cover and hold on procedure. Get under something sturdy and protect yourself.

"Don't Be Scared, Live Prepared!"

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