What to Do Before, During, and After an Earthquake

Largescale earthquakes that cause damage are a real threat in BC – they have happened in the past and will happen again. Is your business prepared?

Aside from the concerns about personal safety and structural damage, an earthquake can also have damaging economic effects. A major earthquake can significantly affect economic activity as utilities, services, and supply chains become disrupted.

Knowing what to do before, during, and after an earthquake sets your business up for success. It helps you recover faster and achieve better business outcomes in an emergency.

Before an Earthquake

Here’s what you should  prepare before an earthquake happens:

  1. A Disaster Preparedness Kit
  2. An Emergency Evacuation Plan
    • Create an emergency evacuation plan and educate staff on evacuation procedures
  3. A Business Continuity Plan
    • Plan in advance how you will triage operations before you can get them up and running again
  4. Emergency Preparedness Training
    • Ensure all staff know where to find the disaster preparedness kit, understand the evacuation plan and continuity plan, and engage staff with ongoing training

React Safely

It’s not enough just to have emergency plans in place. Practicing those plans is crucial, too. By training staff and practicing drills and procedures, you can condition yourself and your employees to react automatically and safely when they feel the first shake of the quake.

Drop, Cover and Hold

The drop, cover, and hold method is still the best way to protect yourself from injury.

  1. Drop – Drop to the floor immediately.
  2. Cover – Identify the closest piece of heavy furniture, such as a table or desk for shelter, and then cover your head and torso.
  3. Hold – Grab the legs of the desk or table you are under to ensure you remain covered.

If there is no table or desk near you, do not run into another room. Instead, crouch in the inside corner of the room you’re in and cover your face and arms. It is also important not to run outside. Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is unstable, and debris could injure you.

Doorways are not safe places to take cover during an earthquake, as they cannot protect you from falling or flying objects.

After the Earthquake

  1. Check for dangers
    • Is there any obvious structural damage, or are there any other potential hazards which could cause imminent danger?
  2. Care for your team
      • Once you have ensured your own well-being, assess the safety of your team. Does anyone need medical attention?
  3. Find your emergency supply kit
    • Identify where the nearest kit is to you, and keep it with you until all dangers have been discounted.
  4. Check the utilities
    • Check the utilities and shut them off if there are signs of leaking. In case of a gas leak, use a flashlight; do not use matches.
  5. Don’t use the phone
    • Your emergency contact list should only be used once the disaster is over. Phone lines should be kept clear for true emergencies.
  6. Clean up
    • If hazardous materials have been spilt, carefully clean them up, to prevent ongoing dangers.
  7. Listen to instructions
    • Use a battery powered radio to listen for broadcast emergency instructions.
  8. Stay on Foot
    • Don’t use your car, except in extreme emergencies, to allow emergency vehicles access to do their job.
  9. Avoid dangerous areas
    • Avoid waterfront areas because of the threat of tsunamis and stay away from power lines if they come down.
  10. Expect aftershocks
    • Once the first quake is over, you will likely feel less strong earthquakes, so be prepared to repeat the drop, cover, hold position and repeat this process.

Visit the Province of BC’s Get Prepared for an Earthquake page for more info.

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