Every April, Tsunami Preparedness Week is a reminder that British Columbia is a seismically active province, and that the threat posed from a damaging tsunami constitutes a reality for coastal communities.
British Columbians were reminded of this in January 2018, when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska triggered tsunami warnings in four out of five tsunami notification zones, with a tsunami advisory in the fifth.
“The tsunami warning in January was a major wake-up call for coastal communities,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “That is why our government is working to prepare our citizens for tsunami events, and partnering with the federal government to enhance public alerting capabilities should disaster strike.”
In conjunction with Tsunami Preparedness Week, PreparedBC has introduced an all-new easy-to-use Earthquake and Tsunami Guide designed to assist all British Columbians on their journey toward personal preparedness. For a copy, please visit: http://ow.ly/xbcw30jjQpC
In the wake of the Jan. 23, 2018, tsunami, public alerting during emergencies has emerged as a topic of concern. Emergency Management BC (EMBC) issues emergency alerts on behalf of the Province and relies on a number of different alerting systems, including:
- the Provincial Emergency Notification System (PENS), which alerts local governments, emergency response officials and media;
- the Emergency Info BC social media channels; and
- Alert Ready, a national system that currently sends alerts through television and radio networks, and now wireless devices. In B.C., Alert Ready is currently only used to broadcast tsunami alerts.
On April 6, 2018, the Alert Ready system was expanded to include wireless alerts to compatible wireless devices, such as smartphones, to ensure more people receive the information necessary to respond quickly in the event of an emergency. This wireless alerting capability will be publicly tested for the first time in B.C. on May 9, 2018, at 1:55 p.m., Pacific time. No subscription is required, and more information on wireless emergency alerts is available at: www.alertready.ca
Tsunamis are most often caused by huge undersea earthquakes. If you feel the ground shake, immediately Drop, Cover and Hold On. If you live in a coastal community, a tsunami alert may follow a major earthquake. Emergency Management BC recommends that you:
- Familiarize yourself with your local evacuation routes and reception centre locations. Know your risk. Find out whether your community is vulnerable to a tsunami threat.
- If you are near the coast when an earthquake occurs, Drop, Cover and Hold On, and then move to higher ground immediately. In areas along B.C.’s outer coast, this means at least 20 metres of elevation.
- Once you reach high ground, stay there. Wait for the “all clear” from your local authorities to confirm the threat is over. Tsunami waves can last several hours.
- Find out how your community plans to share emergency information. Alerting methods include radio, television, telephone, text messages, door-to-door contact, social media and outdoor sirens. Always follow instructions from local authorities during an emergency.
- Know your tsunami notification zone. This will enable you to determine whether or not you are located in an area that is under alert.
- Develop a household emergency plan and assemble an emergency kit with supplies that will last for up to one week. A plan, and emergency supplies, will assist you and your loved ones to survive, and recover from earthquakes, tsunamis and all hazards.