January’s tsunami scare, when a magnitude 7.9-earthquake rattled the Earth’s crust off the coast of Kodiak, Alask,  is nothing but a memory. Luckily it was far enough away from Vancouver Island and a tsunami did not follow the quake.

Geoff Amy, the emergency program co-ordinator with the City of Colwood says it’s not the far away quakes we need to worry about.

“If you feel a major earthquake here, that makes it hard for you to stand, we expect you to self-evacuate. Distant earthquakes aren’t likely to get one [tsunami]  you may get some fluctuation in water,” said Amy.

But while the tsunami never came in January, the scare was real and as Tsunami Preparedness week kicks off in B.C., there’s a new guide meant to help people living in coastal communities better prepare for a disaster.

Having different kinds of alerts are important but one of the tips in the guide is to never wait for an alert before evacuating if you feel an earthquake.

“The systems may be down, the phones may not work, you need to know if you are near the ocean and feel a significant earthquake you need to evacuate right away,” said Amy.

The guide can help people know what to do in an emergency, what procedures are necessary to stay safe and how to put together a grab-and-go kit for the family and animals.

During a tsunami, it’s important to get to higher ground. Here on Vancouver Island, four meters above sea level is considered a safe distance for most areas.

“You don’t need to go up to Triangle Mountain or any of the other mountains as long as you’re 13 feet above the normal high tide mark, then you are in the safe zone,” said Amy.

Inside the guide, there are general arrival times for several areas in a tsunami zone.

Not everyone is in a tsunami zone. If someone lives in an area that is four meters above sea level or more, there is no reason to evacuate.

“It clutters the roads you know, people are trying to get out, responders are trying to do their thing, really, they are causing havoc when they don’t need to,” said Amy.

Most municipalities will be having events throughout the week. Residents are encouraged to check their city’s website.

A copy of the guide is available on the Captial Regional District website, all the municipalities and fire departments.

City of Victoria Antechamber, April 9, 2018, 6 p.m – 7:45 p.m

Colwood City Hall, April 17, 2018, 6:30 p.m – 9 p.m

George Pearkes Recreation Center, April 18, 7 p.m – 8 p.m

 

 

Luisa Alvarez