For most of us, the ‘big’ earthquake of 2015 – a magnitude 4.3 tremor centered near Victoria that shook houses across the Lower Mainland around 11:40 p.m. Dec. 29 – was little more than a subject for humour.
For a moment some thought something – a vehicle possibly – had struck their house.
Aside from a few panicky seconds of “what’s going on here?” – and a spate of “did you feel that?” texting – there was nothing else to it.
Relief quickly turned to laughter.
A popular post online the next morning was an image of an upended piece of plastic lawn furniture with the legend ‘we will rebuild.’
It is a profoundly human reaction to laugh at a lucky escape and we can certainly permit ourselves the luxury of a chuckle – this time. But we would be foolish if this didn’t stir us to make sure we’re prepared for a more major event.
Most of us on the West Coast, as much as we embrace denial, have some concept that a major quake – the big one we have been warned about for years – will be nothing to laugh at.
The major power outage last August demonstrated that many of us are woefully ill-prepared to deal with any variation from routine.
It’s estimated that casualties from a major earthquake in B.C. could number in the thousands. A tsunami caused by the event – or even explosions or fires caused by fractured oil, gas or power lines – would push the numbers higher.
For many, simply surviving the aftermath will be the biggest challenge. Don’t expect phone or Internet services to provide help – even electrical power will likely be out for days or even weeks.
Roads will be clogged with survivors fleeing the disaster, and police will be hard-pressed to maintain order in the face of public panic. There won’t be transportation, or service stations pumping fuel, and stores with food and drinking water, provided they’re still operating, will be sold out in a matter of hours.
Now is the time to make sure your family has a fully-stocked survival kit – and a plan of where to seek shelter and meet if separated.
Does your household have enough water and non-perishable food (including pet food) on hand to survive days without outside aid? Do you have a first-aid kit, candles, lighters and batteries?
There is one upside to the recent quake – it is classed as a ‘slow’ quake, the result of a 10 to 14 day cycle of slipping plates beneath the ocean.
Experts say this cycle seems to occur with regularity, and is consequently easy to predict.
But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security – the same experts say the ‘big one’ may come with little or no warning at all.