with credit to Homes & Cottages magazine

Climate change is being sighted as the cause of the floods that hit two Canadian cites and if the experts are right we should be prepared for more extreme weather events.

2013 has been a year of unexpected flooding and it is not one people in Toronto or Calgary will soon forget. Flooding seems to be one of the events that are causing the most damage

Start with your home since that is where you spend the greatest number of hours each day.

A 5.4 quake can, for example, do any or all the following:

  • Open cupboard doors and throw coffee cups or plates on the floor.
  • Throw books off shelves.
  • Knock paintings off the wall.
  • Tilt entire bookshelves over.
  • Move the refrigerator out 3 feet.
  • Drop a ceiling-mounted light fixture to the floor.
  • Shake a TV out of an entertainment centre or wall niche.
  • Swing a hanging plant or wind chimes into a window.

With these facts in mind walk through your home and identify all items that need to be secured or moved. Also keep in mind items that are especially valuable so they too can be made safer.

The most commonly recommended steps that all home owners can implement without a great deal of cost or effort include:

  • Identifying the safest places to go in the event of an earthquake.
  • Identifying the best location for your emergency preparedness kit and starting the process of putting the things you need in that location. Be sure everyone in you home knows where it is.
  • Anchoring your hot water tank and installing a flexible coupling in order to prevent flooding and to preserve a reliable source of potable water.
  • Identifying the location of the shut off for your main water line and try to close it to ensure you can reach it and that the valve has not seized.
  • Identifying location of the shut off for natural gas and propane tanks. Try closing those values and if a wrench is required, secure one in that location.
  • Anchoring bookcases, file cabinets, refrigerators and other tall furniture pieces to the wall.
  • Installing fire extinguishers.
  • Hanging pictures – especially those that hang above beds – with closed end hooks.
  • Rearranging the contents of cupboards and shelves so that heaviest items are located near the floor.
  • Placing heavy items such as televisions and art pieces on non-skid mats to prevent them from walking.
  • Checking the exterior of your home to identify potential hazards and if they are outside of the scope of things you are comfortable doing, make arrangements to have those things rectified by a professional.

What else can you do to be prepared?

While you are checking for potentially dangerous situations in your home you can also be considering the safest places to go during an earthquake. The best locations are structurally sound and away from windows. Large pieces of furniture such as heavy tables can provide protection as well.

If you live in an older home there may be additional considerations. The resources located at the end of the page provide recommendations.

If you have not yet prepared yourself to be off the grid and self-sufficient for a minimum of 72 hours – start now! Remember, The Complete Idiot’s Guide for Disaster Preparedness says, “There’s still no reliable way to predict them, but with prevention techniques … you can be ready for them when they do strike.”

  • Every household needs a plan, a meeting place and a single contact number outside of the earthquake zone.
  • Every household needs a specifically prepared and safely located household preparedness kit.
  • Every individual needs a grab-and-go bag at each location where they spend time.
  • Every vehicle needs a safety kit that includes the usual first aid items but also those things that would be required following an earthquake.
  • Every individual who has specific skills that are useful in a disaster needs to learn how they can be contacted if their skills are required.

Resources That offer a BC Perspective:


Emergency Management BC, Prepare Now for an Earthquake in BC (includes checklists for grab and go packs and information for preparing your home)


Natural Resources Canada, reducing earthquake Damage to Your Home (2011-11-24)
(contains more in-depth suggestions for reinforcing the structure of your home)

Other Useful Resources: