Earthquake Information

One of the most crucial things to remember during an earthquake is to Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

  • Drop under heavy furniture such as a table, desk, bed or solid furniture.
  • Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling objects.
  • Hold on to the object that you are under so that you remain covered. Be prepared to move with the object until the shaking has finished.

Key ways to to prepare for before an earthquake:

Before an earthquake, you can help prevent injuries and damage by making some changes inside your home. Severe shaking can topple large furniture and appliances, toss heavy items from walls and shelves, and throw open cupboards. To prevent these things from happening:

  • Secure tall, free-standing furniture, such as bookcases, cabinets and shelving to wall studs using “L” brackets, corner brackets or anodized aluminum moulding
  • Move framed pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches and chairs
  • Secure cabinet doors with push or pull latches
  • Use strong strapping and ratchets or other connectors to secure refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers
  • Anchor water heaters snugly to the wall with straps. If necessary, contract a licensed gas fitter to install a flexible gas line
  • Know how to turn off your electrical panel, water and gas in case of leaks or if directed to do so by officials. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the gas valve and leave your home immediately. Once the gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on. Only a registered contractor can do that safely

Drop, Cover and Hold On!

  • If you’re inside your home, stay there. Leave the kitchen. Safer places are in hallways, in corners and in archways. Take cover under a heavy table, desk or any solid furniture that you can get under and hold on to.
  • If you’re in bed, stay there and protect your head and face with a pillow.
  • If you’re in a wheelchair, lock your wheels, cover yourself with a blanket and assume the airplane crash position until the shaking stops.
  • If you’re outside your home, stay outside and get clear of buildings and wires that could fall on you.
  • Avoid outdoor areas where you may be hit by falling debris – sidewalks next to tall buildings are particularly dangerous.
  • Avoid elevators. If you’re in an elevator when an earthquake happens, hit all floor buttons and get out when you can. High-rise residents may hear fire alarms go off and electricity may fail.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, pull over to the side of the road, away from bridges, overpasses and buildings. Stay in your vehicle.
  • If you’re in a crowded public place, take cover and watch that you don’t get trampled. In shopping centres, take cover in the nearest store and keep away from windows, skylights and display shelves of heavy objects.
  • Remain in a protected place until the shaking stops. Anticipate aftershocks – they may occur soon after the first quake.
  • Try to remain calm and help others.

Once the shaking stops…

  • Stay in your safe location and count to 60 to give things time to settle.
  • Before you move, check your immediate area for hazards: broken glass, spilled chemicals or items that have shifted and may easily fall in an aftershock.
  • Check yourself and others nearby for injuries. Administer first aid to yourself before assisting others.
  • If you are told to evacuate by authorities, leave and take your grab & go bag with you.
  • Check utilities but do not shut them off unless damaged or instructed to do so by authorities.
  • Leaking gas will smell. Leave immediately, don’t light matches, turn on and/or off light switches, or use any electronic appliance or engine until you are sure it is safe to do so.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, gloves and protective clothing if there is debris, particularly broken glass.
  • Check on your neighbours after looking after your own family. The first help after an earthquake usually comes from family and neighbours.
  • Place a “HELP” sign in windows if you need extra assistance, or the “OK” sign if you do not.
  • Confine and comfort frightened pets.
  • Do not flush toilets if you suspect sewer pipes or water lines have been broken.
  • Secure your home against intruders. Lock doors and close windows.
  • If you are registered for Saanich Peninsula Alert, follow any instructions provided. Saanich Peninsula Alert is one of the tools the Town of Sidney will use to communicate with the public to deliver critical alerts. Saanich Peninsula Alert is free and is reserved for critical alerts only. Listen to your radio (or car radio) for emergency instructions. Monitor trusted local social media feeds, particularly government and other authorities.
  • Avoid beaches, marinas and low-lying areas as a precaution against large waves, including tsunamis

What to do during an earthquake if you are…

In a Wheelchair

Lock, cover and hold on. Lock your wheels and remain in place until the shaking stops. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book or whatever is available.

In a Bed

Hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow or blanket. You are less likely to be injured in bed where you are shielded from flying objects and broken glass. Most injuries occur when people try to run for cover.

In a High-Rise

Immediately drop, cover and hold on. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Be aware sprinkler systems or fire alarms may activate.


Pull over, stop and set the handbrake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.

In a Store

Immediately drop cover and hold on. If you must move to get away from heavy items on high shelves, drop to the ground first and crawl only the shortest distance necessary.

Near the Shore

Immediately evacuate to high ground. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.

In a Stadium or Theatre

Stay at your seat, bending over to protect your head and neck, or drop to the floor between rows if there’s room. Don’t move until the shaking is over. When it stops, walk out slowly, following directions from officials. Remember to drop, cover and hold on during aftershocks.


Immediately drop, cover and hold on. Move to a clear area only if you can safely do so. Don’t run. Avoid buildings, power lines, trees, signs, vehicles and other hazards.

For more information, familiarize yourself with the PreparedBC Earthquake and Tsunami Guide and the Guide to Emergency Preparedness in the Capital Region