Kobe, Japan 1995Experts say we are overdue for a big earthquake, with a possible magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. You know, the kind that makes people in Winnipeg ask, “What was that?” while the coast of British Columbia tumbles into the Pacific Ocean. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but with 3 tectonic plates — the North America, Pacific and Juan de Fuca — converging just off the coast of Vancouver Island, the threat of a subduction earthquake definitely exists.

Or does it? In 2006, researchers at Oregon State University discovered that the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate is slowing and could eventually cease, thereby mitigating the potential for such a calamitous event.

But don’t start balancing your breakables on the edge of your shelves just yet. The same researchers say the movement of the plates could still produce an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 or 8.0.

So the question remains: Are you ready for the Big One? For those of you snickering, here is some sobering information on the damage a 7.0 or 8.0-scale earthquake could cause:

  • masonry-walled buildings and brick structures could collapse
  • bridge sections could collapse
  • soil liquefaction could break dykes and produce widespread flooding
  • landslides could be triggered
  • power, gas and water systems could be affected for days
  • thousands of people could be seriously injured or killed

Do like a good boy scout and be prepared. Knowing what areas of the Lower Mainland will suffer the most damage is the first step. Also knowing where to take cover indoors during an earthquake could save you from serious injury. Ultimately, having a plan and an emergency kit with plenty of water and non-perishable food will help you and your family ride out those first several days of chaos.

Sources for earthquake information given above: Discover Vancouver website and Science Daily website.


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