How to be ready for anything: Tsunamis

Before there’s a tsunami, there’s often an earthquake. In Canada, the coast of B.C. is at highest risk for tsunamis because of the amount of earthquake activity in the region. If you’re in a tsunami hazard zone, you need to know what to do should one occur.

What is a tsunami?

A tsunami, usually triggered by a major earthquake occurring beneath the ocean floor, consists of a series of large waves that can reach several metres in height. These waves will strike coastal areas and can happen with little warning.

What to do before a tsunami
  • Stay informed by listening for advisories on TV, radio, or social media (e.g. Emergency Info BC on Twitter: @EmergencyInfoBC Opens in new window ). Depending on the threat level, you may need to evacuate to higher ground.
Tsunami Alert Levels
Alert level Potential Hazards Action
Warning Possible flood wave Full evacuation suggested
Advisory Strong currents likely Avoid shoreline
Watch Danger level unknown Stay alert for more info
Information Statement Minor waves expected No action required
Cancellation No wave activity Confirm safety of local areas
  • Check your home for potential flood risks and, if possible, repair any vulnerabilities.
  • Create a home emergency kit and/or a “go bag” in case you need to evacuate quickly. Your kit should contain:
    • Water
    • Ready-to-eat, non-perishable foods (don’t forget to pack food for your pets)
    • Battery-powered or wind-up radio
    • Battery-powered or wind-up flashlight
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Prescription medications
    • Important documents (identification, passports, etc.)
    • Cash
  • Know how to turn off the gas and electricity in your house.
  • Have an evacuation plan as well as a way to get in touch with family members if you’re not all in the same area. Don’t forget to include your pets!
During a tsunami
  • Get to higher ground and stay away from shorelines.
  • If you’re not able to evacuate, stay inside and away from the windows. Try to keep to the side of the house that faces land.
After the tsunami
  • Stay indoors until authorities tell you the area is safe.
  • If you had to evacuate, don’t return home until you’ve been told by authorities that it’s safe to do so.
  • If you’re able to leave your home, avoid any flooded areas and washed out bridges.
  • Restock any supplies from your emergency kit.

Unfortunately, flooding caused by a tsunami isn’t covered under a standard home insurance policy or by overland water coverage. If you have damage caused by flooding, you may be able to qualify for government assistance.

Useful information
  • Get Prepared Opens in new window (Government of Canada)
  • National Resources Canada Opens in new window
  • Government of B.C. Opens in new window
  • U.S. Tsunami Warning System Opens in new window (sends warnings to B.C. area)

Prepare for any emergency by making sure you have the right home insurance. Get a quote from Sonnet now.