Learn how to prepare for and what to do during an earthquake.

In an earthquake, sound usually precedes any ground movement by a split second. This is followed by shaking that can last from several seconds to several minutes. Over the following hours or days, aftershocks may occur.

What to do to prepare for an earthquake

  • Check that you have a battery-powered radio in working order, with spare batteries, to listen to instructions from your local station.
  • Put together a household emergency supply kit that includes food, water and medical supplies and a Grab and Go kit in case you have to evacuate.
  • Create a family emergency plan and practice it.
  • Have an out-of-province telephone contact who your family can call and check in if you get separated.
  • Check your home and minimize any hazards

What to do during an earthquake

If you're in a building:

  • Remain calm.
  • Stay inside, away from windows or anything that could fall on you.
  • Get under a heavy desk or table and hang on, or sit in a doorway or corner.
  • If you can't get under something strong, then flatten yourself against an interior wall and
    protect your head and neck.
  • Don't attempt to leave the building unless you feel the building is unsafe.
  • Wait for the shaking to stop, and be aware there may be aftershocks. Stay in your position for at least 60 seconds after the shaking stops.

In you are out at a shopping mall or other public place, follow the same rules in terms of avoiding windows and heavy, falling debris. You should also try to take cover where you won't be trampled.
In any public place, don't run for the exit or use the elevator. Seek assistance from staff to leave the building when it is safe.

Seniors or people with disabilities

If you're able, move to a safe place in the room. If you are unable to move safely and quickly, stay where you are and cover your head with whatever is available, like pillows, blankets or books.

If you're in a wheelchair, move to an archway or interior wall. Lock the wheels and cover you head and neck with your hands.

If you're outdoors:

  • Get into an open area away from power lines, structures and trees.

If you come across a power line, stay back to avoid electric shock - never assume power lines are dead. People, metal and damp objects are conductors.

If you're in a vehicle:

  • Stop in a clear area.
  • Stay in your car with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.

If you're on a bus or train:

  • Stay in your seat until the bus or train has stopped.
  • Protect your head with whatever is available, such as a book or pillow.
  • Follow the instructions of the driver.

If you're on a boat or ferry:

Being on the water (or in an airplane) is safer than being on land during an earthquake. If you are on a boat or ferry, listen to the crew for direction.

After the shaking stops

  • Check yourself and those around you for injuries, apply first aid if needed. Don't attempt to move seriously injured people.
  • Evacuate the building if you're inside. Use the stairs. Don't attempt to use the elevators.

If you're in a coastal area and experience a large earthquake with shaking that lasts a minute or more, move immediately to higher ground as a tsunami may be approaching.

Don't try to go home right after a major earthquake. Stay where you are until it is safe to leave and then go to your reunion site. Stay off your phone, cell phone and the internet unless there is a life at stake.
Listen to CBC AM 690 or a local radio or TV station for more information and follow all instructions.

Once you get home:

  • Check the building for damage, gas leaks and fires.
  • Hang up all phones that may have been shaken off the hook.

Other emergencies

Earthquakes can lead to other emergencies. For more information about emergency preparedness, see our tips on flood preparedness.