During an emergency, police, fire and ambulance responders are there to help you and in the event of a major disaster this won't change.
However, in a major emergency or disaster situation, police, fire and ambulance personnel cannot be everywhere at once and prioritizing calls will take on even a greater importance in order to help those in life-threatening situations. You can prepare yourself for both major and minor emergencies for your own safety and to help keep emergency responders available for those in dire need.
Video: Dialing 911 after an earthquake
Info Card: Dialing 911 after an earthquake
(order copies of the Dialing 9-1-1 after an Earthquake info card)
Although there are many redundancies built into telephone networks, a major disaster such as an earthquake could impact service, including access to 911 (another good reason to have a personal emergency plan). One of the most important ways people can support emergency services after an earthquake, large or small, is to stay off phones while service is restored or to keep congestion to a minimum. Here’s how you can help:
- After the shaking stops and it's safe to come out from cover, ensure all phones are on the hook.
- Do not use the telephone immediately unless a life is at stake.
- If you have a serious emergency, dial 9-1-1. If you hear a busy signal, hang up and dial again. If you receive a recorded announcement, stay on the line and wait for a call-taker. Do not hang up. Your call will be answered as soon as possible.
- Do not call 9-1-1 for information or to ask questions about the earthquake. Help keep 9-1-1 lines free for those with serious emergencies.
- Listen to your radio and TV for instructions and information, including finding out when it's clear to telephone relatives and friends.
This represents a basic list of items for an emergency kit. For detailed information on emergency preparedness, contact the Provincial Emergency Program at 250-952-4913 or check out our recommended links.
- Pre-select a meeting place for your family in case of emergency
- Carry identification with you at all items, including medical information
Assemble a fire-proof and water-proof emergency kit (keep copies of all important papers in your kit) that includes:
- First-aid kit that includes medication and supplies for infants and elderly persons along with any personal prescriptions
- Food that does not require refrigeration and takes little preparation. Juices are also excellent
- Clothing for both hot and cold weather
- Flashlight and batteries
- AM/FM radio and batteries
- Personal toiletry items such as soap, tissue, toothpaste, toothbrush
- Fire extinguisher, a wrench (to turn off gas) and a crowbar
- Shoes that are heavy enough to protect you from broken glass and other debris
- Matches and candles (DO NOT USE before checking for gas leaks)
- Generator (gasoline-powered) and heavy-duty electrical extension cord
- Shelter (a plastic tarp or tent), emergency blankets, large garbage bags
- Blankets and sleeping bags
To see the EMBC’s emergency plans, visit:
To learn about putting together an emergency plan and preparing an emergency kit, visit:
To learn more about B.C.’s earthquake activity:
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- Public Safety Canada
- Provincial Emergency Program
- Health Canada - Emergencies & Disasters
- Emergency Preparedness in Vancouver - City of Vancouver
- Disaster Response Routes
- Get prepared
- Being Prepared: Emergency Services - City of Richmond