Be ready for the big one

Surviving an earthquake is only step one.

Surviving an earthquake is only step one.

Sybille Sanderson, emergency preparedness co-ordinator for the Cowichan Valley, said the region has a comprehensive workbook to prepare people for disaster.

“Everything we want people to know is in there,” said Sanderson of the 94-page book completed in 2007.

In the workbook are checklists, notes and emergency contacts people will want to keep close.

The book is available at public libraries, recreation centres and local government offices.

“We don’t know when something is going to happen. We are not going to get a head’s up,” said Sanderson.

“For people to think they can just catch up on that when it happens is not a good idea.”

The Great B.C. Shake Out drill to be held on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. will give people a chance to commit to physical memory the Drop, Cover and Hold On procedure.

Because when disaster strikes, said Sanderson, the physical memory can me more reliable.

“The physical memory will react immediately with the right process.”

When The Chronicle spoke to Sanderson on Jan. 18, the response to the sign up had been good so far.

“We expect it to grow a lot,” said Sanderson.

Around 310,000 in B.C. were registered as of Jan. 17.

Sanderson said this is going to be an annual event they hope to build on year after year.

Sanderson said one of the major side effects of an earthquake is the loss of power.

“In a major earthquake we will not have power for an extended period of time,” said Sanderson.

ATMs won’t work and supermarkets won’t be open.

“If people can start to think in those terms, it will serve them well.”

“If you are ready for the earthquake, you are ready for everything else.”

After an earthquake, reception centres might be slow to open as buildings and conditions must be evaluated before people are allowed in.

“People need to recognize you and your neighbours … will be doing the best you can to help each other through this.”

The first thing to do after an earthquake is check yourself for injuries, said Sanderson. The adrenaline coursing through your veins can often mask serious injuries.

“Then actually look around for hazards,” said Sanderson.

People should count the length of the tremors during an earthquake, said Sanderson, as that will indicate how severe the event and the more careful you need to be.

The longer the quake, the more risk of aftershocks.

After the quake, Sanderson said it is not wise to just run out of a building — the hazards can be worse outside.

“You need to evaluate how safe is it inside and how safe is it outside.”

When it comes to natural gas after an earthquake, Sanderson said don’t turn it off unless you smell it.

“We do not have the authorization to turn it back on again. So if that’s your source of heat, then you have no heat.”

For more information, pick up the Cowichan Valley Emergency Preparedness Workbook, visit or