Natural disasters, like earthquakes, are the type of thing that you never think can happen. However, you should always be diligent and prepared in case one does strike. There hasn’t been any recent earthquakes in Ontario, with the last one being 2010’s 5.0 magnitude earthquake 56 kilometres north of Ottawa. But they do happen! Being unprepared for a possible earthquake is not smart for your household or your finances. Although uncommon, you can never be too safe! Here are our earthquake safety tips to remember before, during, and after an earthquake strikes. 

Earthquake safety: How to prepare before an earthquake

As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your home and everyone in it is safe in the event of an earthquake. Earthquake safety should always be taken seriously, and you can never be too prepared. Here are a few earthquake safety tips to help you if the time ever comes:

Replenish supplies

Make sure you have stock of water, canned goods, and other non-perishables in your home if you lose power. It’s a brilliant idea to pick up a camping stove, some small propane tanks, a water filtration system, and non-perishable items. Make sure to keep flashlights and batteries handy, as well as sturdy shoes. 

Brace everything

During an earthquake, everything around you becomes a hazard. With this in mind, you can prepare your home for earthquake safety in simple ways. IF you live in earthquake-prone areas, make sure to brace or bolt down any large objects or pieces, starting with your furniture. Try to put more fragile and heavier objects near the bottom. When you hang heavy things, such as paintings or TVs on your walls, mount them further away from places you use frequently. This includes beds, couches, etc. Finally, know your gathering place. If you and your household ever face being in an earthquake, make sure that you have an evacuation plan and where you are meeting prior. Knowing your way out and planning is vital to earthquake safety!

Earthquake safety: What to do during an earthquake

To protect yourself and the rest of your household, follow this method, as suggested by the Canadian Red Cross: Stop, drop and hold. 

1. Drop

Drop to the ground before the earthquake causes you to fall.

2. Cover

Take cover under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a desk or table, to protect your head and torso from falling objects.

3. Hold

Hold on to the object you are under to remain covered.

When you are inside any space, stay away from windows, heavy objects, and contrary to popular belief, any doorways. And most importantly, stay inside! If you happen to be outdoors when an earthquake hits, stay outside, away from buildings and find an open area, following the stop, drop and hold method. If you are driving when this happens, pull over and apply the parking brake. 

Earthquake safety: What to do after an earthquake hits

The most important thing to remember about earthquake safety is always the chance of aftershocks. If these occur, follow the stop, drop and hold method once again. Remember, aftershocks can happen anytime after the initial quake, from minutes to months later. Once it is clear and you feel comfortable, go around your house, survey the damage and determine whether the environment is unsafe. When looking around, look out for any substances that may be flammable (gasoline, bleach, etc.) and (safely) put out any small fires, if possible/applicable.

It’s good to change into long clothing, if possible, to avoid getting any injuries from broken debris. Always check for injuries on yourself before helping anyone else. Once you have done that, help your loved ones and neighbours, if you can safely. Once you and your household are all accounted for and in a safe space, tune into the news and check in with your family. If the power is out, turn on the radio. If you are not in your household when the earthquake strikes, remember to only return to your home once the authorities deem it safe to leave your current location.

Filing an earthquake-related insurance claim

Regarding filing an insurance claim on any of the damages to your home, your home insurance policy may cover certain “unexpected events,” but not all of them. Such events may include:

Your home insurance policy may cover some types of damage related to an earthquake. But it’s always best to be familiar with your policy before disaster strikes, not after. For example, if an earthquake causes a gas line to break and a fire starts in your home, your home insurance policy may cover the damage. However, that is not the case for earthquakes, landslides, floods, or sewer backup. Generally, home insurance policies do not cover the damages caused by earthquakes. At the end of the day, it comes down to a case-by-case basis, which is why it’s important to consult with your isure broker regarding your home insurance policy coverage.

No matter the odds, earthquake safety is not something to overlook, and every person should be aware of the risks and how best to minimize them to optimize their household’s safety. If you have any further questions about earthquake safety and what that means for your home insurance, please feel free to give isure a call!

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