Awareness of earthquake risk in British Columbia looks to be on the rise if registrants for the 2017 Great British Columbia ShakeOut, which reached record numbers this year, is any indicator.
A record 886,000 British Columbians participated Thursday, joining millions of people worldwide who take part in the annual Great ShakeOut “drop, cover and hold on” earthquake drills, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) notes in a statement issued Thursday.
Aiming to raise awareness about B.C.’ s earthquake risk and the importance of immediately taking protective measures, the 886,000 participants in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut is up considerably from the 785,000-plus provincial citizens who took part last year, notes IBC, a sponsor of the event in Canada since its inception.
“Earthquakes are one of the critical hazards we face in B.C.,” Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness in B.C., says in the IBC statement, pointing out the event serves as a reminder of how best to react should a quake strike.
“I am encouraged by the widespread participation in this year’s event, and I urge British Columbians to discover PreparedBC and the resources that are available to help us continue to raise the bar on disaster readiness,” Rice continues.
“Drop, Cover, Hold On” is internationally recognized as the best way to prevent injuries and save lives during an earthquake,” notes the IBC statement. “Dropping to the ground prevents the earthquake from causing you to fall. Taking cover and holding helps protect you from flying objects and falling debris,” the bureau adds.
Enhanced awareness is the goal regardless of location. But in Quebec – where earthquakes have hit, particularly in areas near the St. Lawrence Valley – challenges persist with regard to bolstering awareness.
IBC reported Thursday that most Quebecers are unprepared for an earthquake, with a mere 8% of respondents understanding the need to drop, cover and hold on in the event of such an event.
The lack of understanding about how to protect oneself is matched by a misperception around potential risk and damage. Asked whether or not they think their homes could suffer damage from a quake, just one in seven (14%) of respondent replied yes.
IBC has taken steps, including this year with the release of a promotional vides, in a bid to enhance awareness in the province.
In B.C., Rice says “emergency preparedness is an ongoing endeavour, and together, we are taking action and building a British Columbia that is better-prepared.”
Experiencing more than 3,000 quakes annually in B.C., most of these may be too small for people to feel, but the risk of one capable of causing major damage is real.
“Earthquakes are a fact of life on the west coast,” Scott Sampson, president and CEO of Science World, says in the IBC statement.
“Science World supports the Great British Columbia ShakeOut because we believe that developing an understanding of the science of earthquakes and tsunamis and what to do in such emergencies is integral to keeping yourself and others safe during a disaster,” Sampson adds.
“Government, businesses and all British Columbians have a role to play in creating a true culture of earthquake preparedness across this province,” suggests Aaron Sutherland, IBC’s vice president, Pacific.
“By working together, we can make British Columbia a safer, better-prepared province for when disaster strikes,” Sutherland maintains.
To help promote the annual drill and need for preparedness, the B.C. Earthquake Alliance and IBC have also launched the “Show Me ShakeOut” poster and video contest for school-aged children.