Earthquake Preparedness

Personal Preparedness

  • Emergency Management BC endorses and supports "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" as the appropriate actions for individuals to take to best protect themselves in the event of an earthquake. “Drop, Cover and Hold On” is also recognized and supported by seismologists, engineers, governments, emergency management professionals and first response agencies throughout North America.
  • In earthquake prone areas of Canada, the U.S. and in many other countries, strict building codes have worked to greatly reduce the potential of structure collapse. Studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes over the last several decades show that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building.

    The main goal of "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is to protect you from falling and flying debris and other non-structural hazards, and to increase the chance of your ending up in a survivable void space if the building actually collapses. The space under a sturdy table or desk is likely to remain even if the building collapses- pictures from around the world show tables and desks standing with rubble all around them, and even holding up floors that have collapsed. Despite the recent earthquake messages promoting the "Triangle of Life" theory, whereby it is suggested that it is safer to be beside a sturdy object rather than underneath one, there is overwhelming evidence contradicting this technique.

    This is why EMBC agrees with emergency managers, researchers, and school safety advocates, as well as official rescue teams from Canada, the U.S. and other countries who have searched for trapped people in collapsed structures around the world: "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is the most appropriate action for individuals to take to reduce the possibility of injury or death during earthquakes.

  • DROP down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquake knocks you down). This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
  • COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, only then should you get down near an interior wall (or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you), and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
  • HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.