Earthquake rattles Nanaimo residents

NANAIMO – Middle-of-the-night shake a wake-up call for emergency preparedness.

Nanaimo residents who thought they felt a bump in the night weren’t imagining things.

Vancouver Island was jolted by a moderately strong earthquake about 20 minutes before midnight Tuesday. The epicentre for the subterranean disturbance was about eight kilometres northeast of the Saanich peninsula, about 50 km below the earth’s surface that produced a quake estimated at 4.3 to 4.9 in magnitude.

No damage or injuries were reported, but it was felt by large numbers of people across the Island and Lower Mainland who called into emergency services asking about the cause of the shaking.

“I think because it was so close it was a wake-up call for people, literally,” said Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo emergency program manager.

Lindsay said it’s a good time for people to prepare an emergency kits or check existing ones to make sure they are adequately supplied to sustain people with food, water, medicines and first aid items, warm clothing and other necessities for seven days.

Although the kits prepare people for an earthquake – the worst-case disaster scenario for the Island – they’re equally valuable for other emergencies, such as fires or chemical spills that can cause mass evacuations, or even lengthy power outages caused by winter storms.

“I recommend seven days in a kit, although a lot of the publications say 72 hours, because we’re on an island and we’re a bit remote we can get cut off,” Lindsay said. “A lot of the infrastructure will shut initially, so we really want people to look at preparing for a week and it doesn’t take a lot of stuff.”

She said this is also a good time to have family discussions about preparedness, go through homes to determine where gas and water shutoff valves are, and make and practice plans about what to do immediately following a major seismic event.

Lindsay also advises people to stay off their phones immediately following tremors. Emergency Management B.C. and 911 operators were “hammered with calls” immediately following Tuesday’s quake.

“What we want to remind residents is that 911 and emergency lines aren’t information lines to find out if an earthquake happened. They’re for emergencies,” Lindsay said.

To learn more about how to prepare for seismic events and other emergencies, please visit the City of Nanaimo’s website or provincial government emergency preparedness tips.