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Emergency Preparedness

Ben's Recipe for Earthquake Survival


The most important part of an earthquake kit is your knowledge. It is important not to be scared or worried about earthquakes, these are just things that happen in this region of the world. It is equally as important to be informed and understand what it means to be in an earthquake, especially a large one.


Earthquakes can be measured in part by the length of time that the shaking lasts.


  • 1 Min ~ 6 on the Richter Scale

  • 2 Min ~ 7 on the Richter Scale

  • 3 Min ~ 8 on the Richter Scale

  • 4 Min ~ 9 on the Richter Scale



What to Expect


There are 4 main stages to a coastal earthquake in a Subduction Zone (which is what the Cascadia region is in).


1. Initial Shockwave – a jolt … a WTF moment where people wonder what just happened. Usually not hugely damaging, but will definitely get your attention. This is preceded by a short time-lag. Perhaps a minute or two and then the shaking starts. 

Do not go into a doorway! If you're at home in bed, the best thing to do is to hunker beside your bed on the floor.


2. Primary Quake – A timeframe categorized by shifting, shaking and undulating earth movements. It will also cause any “liquefaction zones” to become unstable. The length of the earthquake as described above helps to discern how intense the earthquake is. A note; deep earthquakes do not cause much damage or tsunami’s usually, surface quakes are much more destructive. Then yet another lag… This time anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes before the displacement of earth causes a displacement of water.


3. Tsunami – A tsunami is not a wave per say, but a large volume displacement of water. This is why if we have a large earthquake the wave will reach the other side of the Pacific ocean in a matter of hours. Tsunami “waves” can move upwards of 900 miles per hour. That is faster than the average Jumbo jet. Coastal cities/towns find the largest amount of devastation occurs with the Tsunami associated with an Earthquake. Do not expect that Vancouver Island will provide a barrier for the mainland.

If you're on a beach, get out, move to high ground.


4. After-Shocks – After shocks can be of devastating magnitude and an area can experience hundreds of aftershocks of varying magnitudes. These can cause unstable structures to collapse, and further damage infrastructure.


5. Then you add the people factor.  People are panicking, most are not prepared. There are gas fires, power lines down, people injured possibly dead. People don't have food or water and will likely not for a long time without help. This is a reality of these kinds of large quakes.


Liquefaction Zones: In Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, there are certain areas that are Liquefaction Zones -- areas that have no bedrock underneath the ground, which means that during a tsunami, the ground will be filled with liquid and sink or collapse.














Liquefaction Zones: Click on maps to zoom in


As uncomfortable and scary as this is, it's also expected -- we are well within the time-frame to experience this type of disaster. 

Rather than panic, let's create a plan, so that when the time comes you will know how to take care of yourself and your family.


Emergency Plan


It's important to have a dicussion with your loved ones to decide where to meet as a group in the case of an emergency.

During an earthquake or disaster, you may not have communication, and may need to coordinate if one of you is injured. 

You should also decide how long to wait before going to search for missing members of your group, or leaving where you are.


IMPORTANT: Don't wait to have this conversation, do it today rather than tomorrow!!


Your decision to stay or leave will also depend on how damaged or safe your location is:



To “bug-in” means to stay put and weather the storm from where you are. If your structure is not damaged, you are safe, and there is no danger of it becoming unsafe with aftershocks, fires, looting etc... then you can hunker down with your bug-in cupboard.



To "bug-out" means you deem your structure unsafe to remain in. In this case, you are carrying everything you need for yourself for up to 3 weeks on your back. Remember that in a serious earthquake, there will likely be no train, port, airport or highway service, and you will need to move by foot or bike -- make sure you've got good shoes!



Earthquake Kit


On the West Coast we are expected to get a large quake. This size of quake is likely to knock outpower, water and all emergency services for a long time. Think Hurricane Katrina-type catastrophe.  So think of your earthquake kit as a real “roughing it” type of camping. You will need food, water, shelter, heat and you will likely need to be mobile. An earthquake unfortunately is not a single disaster, but a set of events that set in motion a number of disasters, so it is important to be prepared for many things.


There are 2 types of earthquake kit. One is called a “bug-out bag”, and the other is a “bug-in bag”. They are essentially the same minus their portability. 















* EACH PERSON needs their own (at least) Level 1 earthquake kit *

Another key point is that you spend 1/3 of your life asleep, so having your home kit close to your bed (including a pair of readily accessible shoes) is very important. Think about where you spend most of your time.



Equipment List


Every place you frequent regularly during your day-to-day should have these items including your home, car and workplace. I tend to carry some/most of these Level 1 pieces with me in my backpack or truck at all times.

It's important to build your kit sooner rather than later. This list is extensive and supplies aren't always cheap, so we suggest you at least start gathering items incrementally. 


Level 1 Survival kit
  • Lightweight waterproof Backpack and roll of garbage bags

  • Sharp Knife (one that cuts through rope and can be used for self-defence)

  • Headlamp

  • Water Purification tablets x100, or purification straw

  • Bottled Water

  • 100 feet of rope in a bag

  • Dried Food for 2 weeks --I suggest something simple like $25 worth of Mr.Noodle -- lightweight and portable and does not need water, and will help maintain salt balance; protein and/or fruit bars

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Sweater

  • Hiking boots, extra wool socks

  • Lighter(s) / waterproof matches / hand-crank light


Below is the suggested basics, and could help you deal with most anything (Should Include Kit 1 as well).


Level 2 Kit
  • Walkie-Talkies (preset channels for you and your friends)

  • A watch (so you know how long to wait at your meeting spot)

  • Tarp for shelter

  • Tent (if you have a very lightweight one) 

  • Lightweight Sleeping Bag (with compression sack) or blanket

  • Hat/toque 

  • Extra batteries for headlamp/walkie-talkies

  • A wool sweater (not cotton, as this draws heat out when wet)

  • First Aid kit

  • Salt (for hydration and injuries)

  • Portable mini camp stove

  • Stove gas

  • A Refillable Water bottle

  • A couple of Carabiners (to attach things to yourpack, setup pulleys etc)

  • Some cash (a couple hundred dollars that you do not touch)

  • A pencil and paper

  • A hatchet

  • Some fishing line and hooks

  • A box of tampons (for first aid; large bleeds.)

  • A bandana

  • A set of Eyeglasses (if you need them)

  • Compass

  • Bear spray for self-defence (watch out when it's windy)

  • A fabric belt (can be used for tourniquet)

  • Soap (very important after a disaster to stay clean)

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Disposable Face masks (for fire, gas and chemical fires, and glass dust)

  • If you have valuable data, a backed up copy on a USB stick

  • Handheld hand-crank Radio


Level 3 Kit
  • Satellite phone **Guaranteed Communication** 

  • On-road/Off-road Motorcycle or Bicycle **Most likely functional vehicle**

  • Gas mask

  • Firearm and shells (deterrent and self-defense)

  • Bug-out location – Meeting point away from the conflict that may have caches of food, water, tools etc… Something near fresh water and forest.



Recommended Courses
  • Level 3 Occupational first Aid $$$

  • Self- Defense $

  • Outdoor education $

  • Ropes and knots courses $

  • PAL and COPE courses $$



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