What is a tsunami?
A tsunami is a series of ocean waves which are sometimes generated at the same time as an earthquake far away in the Pacific Ocean, it may take hours for waves to reach coastal British Columbia, and there is a Tsunami Warning and Alerting Plan in place to pass the warning to coastal residents as quickly as possible.
Tsunamis are not “tidal waves”. They have nothing to do with tides, or weather, and they act quite differently from ordinary waves. They can move through the open ocean at hundreds of kilometres an hour and be scarcely noticed, even when they pass under a boat. But, when they reach shallower water near shore, they become a very powerful surge of water or even huge breaking waves. The first wave of tsunami is not the largest. Other waves may follow every few minutes, for a period of hours.
The force of tsunami waves can cause great destruction in harbours and the height of tsunami waves increases as they run into rivers and coastal channels.
If you are near the coast and feel intensely strong shaking from an earthquake- strong enough to make standing difficult- it is best advised to head to high ground immediately (greater than 10 metres or 30 feet above the tide line).
Local emergency officials may not have enough time to issue a warning to residents in the event of tsunami created by a near-shore earthquake. It is important to remember that tsunamis are rare events, and not all earthquakes will generate a tsunami. However it is also critical to know what to do as a precaution if you live a vulnerable area. For more information on tsunamis preparedness contact your local emergency program coordinator or visit the Provincial Emergency Program website at: www. pep.bc.ca
Rare But Serious….
If a Tsunami Watch or Warning is issued for your area, listen to your local media and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. Tsunami Watch- be alert and get prepared for further instructions by local officials. Tsunami Warning- local officials may be starting to evacuate high-risk areas along pre- determined evacuation routes. Give local emergency officials your fullest cooperation. More information about watch or warning status and a detailed notification zone map for risk areas is available at www.pep.bc.ca In the Event of an Immediate Tsunami Threat Move to higher ground.
- If you are in a coastal area identified in a tsunami risk zone, and you feel intense shaking from a near-shore earthquake, it is advisable to move immediately to higher ground (great than 10 metres or 30 feet above the tide line)
- Some communities have pre-identified safe areas that you should be aware of. Stay tuned to your radio for updates.
Follow the instructions of all emergency officials. This is for your safety and the safety of those around you.
In the first 24 hours, use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.
Do not go to the beach to watch. All areas of the coastline will not be impacted equally. Within very short distances, the effects of a tsunami may vary considerably and there could be dramatic differences in wave height and impact. Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Property
- Know where you and your family will evacuate to in the event of a tsunami.
- Know how you will get to your pre-determined safe area.
- Maintain a family emergency kit in state of readiness for unexpected evacuation.
- Listen to local media and follow the instructions of emergency officials.
Build an Emergency Kit (www2.gov.bc.ca)
Creating a home emergency kit doesn’t need to take long. Just follow the basic list below. In addition, remember to add personal items, such as prescription medications, an extra pair of eyeglasses and copies of important documents like passports, birth certificates and insurance papers.
Always make sure emergency kits are in easily accessible locations.
Build an Emergency Kit
How much is enough?
The general rule is four litres of water per person per day, but there are a few caveats:
- Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more
- If you live in a warm region of B.C., hot temperatures can double water needs
- Pets need about 30 millilitres of water per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, an average-sized cat or small-sized dog needs at least 1/5 of a litre, or half a cup, daily
How and where do I store my water?
It’s recommended you purchase commercially-bottled water and keep it in its original container in an easily accessible, cool and dark place. Don’t open it until you need it.
Observe the expiration or “best before” dates. Set a reminder in your phone or remember to check the dates when the clocks “spring forward” and “fall back”.
What hidden water sources are available in my home?
It’s easy to locate safe water sources in your home. These include the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. It’s recommended you don’t use water from toilet tanks or bowls, radiators, waterbeds, swimming pools or spas.
Can I purify my own water?
We recommend purchasing commercially-bottled water; however, the Ministry of Health has information on the steps you can take to purify and bottle your own.
What about water filtration devices?
These devices are becoming more and more popular, perhaps because they don’t take up as much room as several litres of bottled water. There are a lot of different options out there – different brands offer many different types, ranging from water bottle-sized to 18-litre containers or larger. If you choose to go this route, it’s still not a bad idea to store some bottled water as well.
Don’t count on being home when there’s an emergency. In addition to having one at home, create grab-and-go bags for your work and vehicles that contain:
- Food (ready to eat) and water
- Flashlight and batteries
- AM/FM radio
- Seasonal clothing
- Cell phone charger
- Pen and notepad
- Personal toiletries
- Small First-Aid kit
- Extra pair of glasses or contacts
- Cash in small bills
- Local map with your family meeting place identified