When the big one hits, it’s probably not a good idea to try to run or even remain standing, says Qualicum Beach fire Chief Darryl Kohse.
“In a severe earthquake, you are not going to be standing for very long,” Kohse said. “A quake will put you on the ground pretty quickly.”
Rather, he said, get down low and find some suitable cover and wait it out.
“Find something strong, like a sturdy desk, a table or an archway,” he said. “When the ground shakes, most injuries and deaths are caused by falling debris. Stay away from windows, hanging objects or tall, unsecured furniture.”
Kohse made the comments in light of the upcoming Great British Columbia Shakeout, the largest earthquake drill in B.C. history.
The event, slated for 10 a.m. on Jan. 26, will see participants undergo an imaginary earthquake, diving under cover and assessing their own and their family’s safety from there.
Although the actual drill itself will be important, Kohse said the time prior to the drill will likely be of equal or greater importance, as participants learn where to go and what to do in the event of a big shaker.
“The whole point is to get more familiar with earthquakes and how to prepare for one,” Kohse said. “People should be prepared to look after themselves for 72 hours until help can arrive.”
It’s hard to look after yourself, let alone your family, while pinned under tons of rubble, so getting to a safe place right away is crucial. To this end, knowing what constitutes a safe place — at home or at work — can save vital seconds and mean the difference between life or death.
That information, Kohse said, is readily available at www.shakeoutbc.ca.
“The site has information on how to prepare your home, what to do during the shaking and what to do after the shaking stops,” he said. “
Kohse stressed that Oceanside residents shouldn’t think of earthquakes as only happening in far-flung corners of the globe, noting that B.C. has its fair share of tremblors, although the vast majority of them are very small.
“I remember a few years a back when I was in Errington,” he said. “We felt a small tremor, maybe five or six seconds and then it was gone. We have constant small quakes around B.C., usually off the west coast. However, they keep on saying the big one is going to come at some point and it’s best to be prepared for when it does.”