Earthquakes may not be the most common natural disaster in Canada, but they do happen more often than think. In fact, a 3.4 magnitude earthquake occurred in Montreal on just January 13th, 2020. Unlike other seasonal weather threats, earthquakes can happen at any time of year and often cause catastrophic property damage. So protect your home, family, and neighbourhood by learning the right earthquake safety tips:

Preventative Measures

You can’t prevent the earthquake from occurring, but you can prepare for it. Start by simply stocking up on bottled water and non-perishable foods until you have a three-day supply for the whole family. Since even mild earthquakes can knock out power supplies and make roadways impassable, you’ll want enough supplies to wait out the arrival of help. Talk to your family about dealing with earthquakes and make a plan for reconnecting if the event occurs while you’re at work and school.

Repairing any structural damage or flaws in your home will also help it resist damage from tectonic movements. If you’re building a new home from scratch, consider safety features like reinforced foundations, deep soil anchors, and anchor straps that run from the foundation to the roof. Choosing a build site with stiff, heavy soil and a high bedrock layer also helps.

What to Do During an Earthquake

Earthquakes are harder to predict that many other natural disasters, despite modern geological monitoring systems. If an earthquake strikes, it will likely catch you and your family off guard. If you feel the movements of a suspected quake, drop anything you’re holding and get onto the ground. Crouch down on the ground in a ball and cover your head and neck with your hands. If you’re driving, pull over immediately or as soon as possible if you’re on a bridge or overpass. Seek solid ground in these cases before stopping. Don’t immediately get up or flee an area after the initial shocks pass. Aftershocks are very common and are often more dangerous than the initial tremors due to the loosened terrain. Wait at least 10 to 15 minutes unless you are in an unsafe or damaged structure. Aftershocks can continue for hours, so try to avoid driving and seek safer shelter when possible.

Recovering After the Shaking Subsides

When you’re sure that the aftershocks are mostly over or have faded to minor tremors, it’s time to assess the damage. Stay away from any downed or exposed electrical lines and gas connections. Even if your home appears intact, there may be damage underground or in the yard that poses a hidden hazard. Call for a utility checkup if your lights flicker or you smell any unusual odours. For more obvious damage like cracked walls, collapsed roofs, or even sinkholes, you’ll need to decide between repairing and rebuilding. Even minor cracks in walls and floors can indicate serious foundation damage or instability, so rebuilding with a more earthquake resistant design may be the safest option.

Insurance Implications of Earthquakes

Earthquakes can directly damage or destroy your home and other property. Unfortunately, the potential problems don’t end there. You may get away with no structural damage at all and still watch your priceless family heirloom china crash to the ground and shatter into pieces. A tree or structure on your property could collapse onto a neighbour’s property and cause damage. Landslides are a major problem in hilly and mountainous areas, and they can occur months to years after an earthquake loosens the soil.

Standard home insurance policies in Canada don’t generally cover these kinds of damage. However, every major insurance provider makes it easy to add on optional earthquake insurance. Be sure to talk with one of our friendly brokers today to add it to your current policy.

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