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Province of British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2024EMCR0018-000543
April 12, 2024
Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
Turn the tide during Tsunami Preparedness Week
Updated on April 15, 2024

VICTORIA – People living in coastal B.C. communities are encouraged to get prepared for tsunamis and practise their evacuation plans during Tsunami Preparedness Week April 14-20, 2024.

“Many areas along the coast of B.C. are at risk of tsunamis, which are a series of giant waves that can send surges of water to shore quickly and cause severe damage,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “While it’s hard to imagine a tsunami happening, getting prepared now and knowing what to do should one happen can help keep you and your loved ones safe. This Tsunami Preparedness Week, make or review your home emergency plan, put together your grab-and-go bag and practise your evacuation route.”

During Tsunami Preparedness Week, some coastal communities are hosting High Ground Hikes, where people can practise reaching their tsunami safe zone. Knowing where higher ground is and how to get there quickly is an important part of tsunami preparedness, and people may not need to go far to reach a safe area.

“People on the West Coast are very aware of the threat tsunamis pose, and in the case of the 1964 Alaska earthquake, the very real impacts of tsunamis on coastal communities like Port Alberni and Hot Springs Cove,” says Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “Tsunami preparedness, as well as tsunami awareness, is so critical for the safety of our communities. That’s why Tsunami Preparedness Week and events like High Ground Hikes are a great opportunity to learn where your closest tsunami safe zone is, and to create or review your family’s household emergency plan.”

This year, High Ground Hikes will be held in the following communities:

  • Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District
  • Bamfield
  • Colwood
  • Kwakiutl
  • Metchosin
  • Pacheedaht First Nation
  • Piers Island
  • Port Alberni
  • Port McNeill
  • Prince Rupert
  • Salt Spring Island
  • Sooke
  • Stewart
  • Tahsis
  • Tofino
  • Toquaht Nation
  • Ucluelet
  • White Rock
  • Zeballos, Nuchatlaht First Nation, Ehattesaht Chinekint First Nation

On April 2, 2024, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake near Taiwan triggered an assessment of tsunami risk for the West Coast by the National Tsunami Warning Centre, which determined that there was no tsunami threat to B.C.

“Our primary residential area for Toquaht citizens is m̓aʔaquuʔa (Macoah), and as such is at risk for a tsunami or flooding after an earthquake,” said Jackie Arsenault, director of assets at Toquaht Nation. “Knowing this, our emergency management team is grateful for the chance to educate citizens, make them aware of evacuation routes, and provide opportunity to practise with them on how to move our community safely out of the path of any potential risks.”

In the event of a tsunami, people at risk will receive an alert to their cellphone, TV and radio stations through B.C.’s emergency alert system. In addition to these alerts, other tools may be used to warn people, including coastal siren systems, local government emergency alerts and social media, including @EmergencyInfoBC on X (formerly Twitter).

Take action to prepare for a tsunami:

  • Become familiar with local evacuation routes and high ground locations.
  • Once at high ground, stay there. Wait for the “all clear” from local officials to confirm the threat is over. Tsunami waves can last several hours.
  • Find out how your community shares emergency information and subscribe to local alerts. Alerting methods include radio, television, telephone, text messages, door-to-door contact, social media and outdoor sirens. Always follow instructions from local officials during an emergency.

If you are visiting an area with higher tsunami risk, research evacuation routes and share your travel plans with friends and family.

“Events like Tsunami Preparedness Week are important because they provide us the opportunity to pause and really consider the steps we would take in an emergency,” said Herb Pond, mayor of Prince Rupert. “That’s why we are encouraging our own community to learn about local procedures for tsunamis and providing information on keeping a well-stocked emergency kit. We’re happy to be partnering with the Province again this year on this work, and would like to thank them for leading the way on this important initiative.”

Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes that occur under or very near the ocean. People living on the coast in a tsunami zone should drop, cover and hold on when an earthquake occurs and immediately move to higher ground after the shaking stops.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2022, the Province, in partnership with the Capital Regional District, launched the Capital Region Tsunami Information Portal, which shows people if they are living in, working in or visiting a tsunami hazard zone.
  • In February 2023, the Province launched ClimateReadyBC, an online hub to help communities and people prepare for disasters and climate risks, including tsunamis.
  • In March 2022, the Province and Natural Resources Canada installed Canada’s first earthquake early-warning sensor station in Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, as part of the Canada Earthquake Early Warning System.
  • Earthquake early-warning systems rapidly detect earthquakes and can provide crucial seconds of warning before the strong shaking arrives.
  • The Canada Earthquake Early Warning System will be operational in spring 2024 and will send emergency alerts to smartphones, TVs and radios through the National Public Alerting System.

Learn more:

To read the PreparedBC Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness Guide, visit: https://www.preparedBC.ca/tsunamis 

To learn more about coastal communities hosting High Ground Hikes, visit: https://www.preparedBC.ca/HighGroundHike

For information about tsunami risk and how to get prepared, visit: https://www.preparedBC.ca/tsunamis 

For more information about how to prepare for an emergency and what to include in emergency kits, visit: https://www.preparedBC.ca

Capital Region Tsunami Information Portal: https://tsunami.prepareyourself.ca/

Canadian Earthquake Early Warning system: https://www.earthquakescanada.nrcan.gc.ca/eew-asp/system-en.php

To learn more about ClimateReadyBC, visit: https://climatereadybc.gov.bc.ca/

For information during active emergencies, follow EmergencyInfoBC:
Website: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/
X (formerly Twitter): X.com/emergencyinfobc 

 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
Media Relations
250 880-6430
 

 
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect