Tsunami fears rise in wake of quake

According to the Provincial Emergency Program, the areas around Victoria are not seriously threatened by tsunamis.

Last weekend’s earthquake near Haida Gwaii has raised concern amongst some Oak Bay residents about the community’s risk for tsunamis.

“I had no idea of whether we were at risk and what we should be doing,” said Peggy Coutts, whose own efforts to gather information early Sunday morning were less than successful.

That shouldn’t have been the case, said Oak Bay Fire Chief Gerry Adam, whose department is responsible for managing emergency measures in Oak Bay. “We try to get the message out through tons of public presentations, displays and brochures that are handed out at public events. We also have them available online,” he said. “People with concerns need only to call the fire department’s non-emergency line and we can give them full information on threat levels and actions required by residents.

“We don’t have a siren system or anything like that,” said Adam. “What we do have is lot of public education, internet updates, social media, and the cooperation of media outlets like CFAX radio.”

Brochures, maps of tsunami-safe areas and other information are all available at oakbayemergency.com or by contacting the Fire Department at 250-592-9121.

According to the Provincial Emergency Program, the areas around Victoria are not seriously threatened by tsunamis.

The true danger lies in an earthquake itself, with the greatest threat coming from a major quake measuring over 9.0 and occurring in the Cascadia Subduction Zone (located about 100 km off the western shore of Vancouver Island).

In case of a major earthquake, first drop, cover, and hold on. Then, if you are near the sea, go to higher ground with an elevation of four metres or more above sea level.

Make sure your neighbours know of the threat and help others to safety. This is especially true for those who are elderly, families with small children and those with disabilities.

Identify your tsunami-safe zones in advance. Call the fire department if you are unsure of where to go.

Remember to take your radio and your “Grab and Go” bag. (If you don’t have a bag, get one ready).

The best natural indications of a potential tsunami are sustained ground shaking (lasting more than a minute), or the rapid rise or fall of sea level.

Do not go to the waterfront to see the drop in sea level. Go to high ground and stay there until officially notified that the threat is over.

Remember that tsunamis are a series of waves and that the largest wave may not be the first.

More information is available at pep.bc.ca.

Did you know?

There are four levels of notification:

Tsunami Warning – Highest/most serious level, this means there is an imminent threat of a tsunami. Immediately move inland to an area that is outside the danger zone, four metres above sea level.

Tsunami Advisory – Second highest level of notification, this means there is the potential of a tsunami producing strong currents dangerous to those in or near the water.

Tsunami Watch notification – There is no need to do anything. You should listen to your radio or check the Provincial Emergency Program website for up to date information.

Tsunami Cancellation or ALL CLEAR message – This means that the threat of an imminent damaging tsunami is over and is safe to return home.