Earthquakes, wildfires, and floods

Be prepared for emergencies in B.C.

We live in a beautiful province that ranges in landscape from big-city urban to rugged wilderness. Yet all of us can be confronted by emergencies resulting from floods, wildfires, or an earthquake.

Wildfires

During the summer season, wildfires are common in British Columbia. BC Hydro crews work closely with local and provincial emergency authorities in the event of wildfire. For updates on the status of wildfires, fire danger ratings and fire bans, visit the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch:

  • In the event of wildfire, stay away from and do not touch BC Hydro infrastructure (lines, poles, towers, hydro boxes, etc.). Assume that these may be energized and may cause harm.

See also: BC Hydro offers assistance to wildfire evacuees

Floods

Water and live electrical wires can be a lethal combination. While floods are common in B.C., you can take steps to ensure the safety of your family.

If flooding is expected:

  • Turn off the main power supply to the building.
  • Have a BCSA licensed gas contractor remove hot water tanks, clothes dryers, and stoves, and cap the gas pipe leading to the appliance shut-off valve.
  • Move portable electrical items to somewhere not at risk of flooding.

If flooding occurs:

  • Turn off the main power supply to the building if possible.
  • Do not attempt to use any gas or electric appliances.
  • Do not enter any area of the building that has been flooded.
  • Leave the building immediately.

If you must evacuate:

  • Turn off the electrical main power switch only if the building is dry.
  • If the building is already flooded, don’t attempt to turn off the main power switch.
  • Don't enter flooded basements or buildings that may have energized wires or appliances.
  • Don't touch damp walls.
  • If you're boating in a flooded area, avoid power lines. Don’t travel by boat at night, as you’ll be unable to see power lines.

After the flood has ended:

  • Remember that gas and electrical hazards may still exist long after the water dissipates. Building owners should contact a BCSA licensed contractor to inspect for any safety hazards and ensure it is safe for you and your family. Prior to the licensed contractor authorizing your service to be reconnected, work may be necessary:
  • Inspecting all wiring before turning on the main power switch.
  • Drying, cleaning, and testing the main electrical panel and electrical components of appliances or heating, pressure, or sewage systems.
  • Replacing circuit breakers that were submerged and destroying old breakers to prevent them being used again.

Get more information on flooding from Emergency Management BC

Emergency Management BC website

Earthquakes

At home

The threat of an earthquake is constant in parts of British Columbia. We experience thousands of minor earthquakes every year.

During an earthquake:

  • Stay calm and take action to protect you and your family.
  • Practice the 'Drop, Cover, and Hold On' technique that will best protect you in the event of an earthquake.
    • Take shelter underneath a heavy table or desk, tuck head to knees and cover head
    • Stay away from objects that may fall
    • Keep well away from glass (it may shatter)
  • Stay in your location for 30 seconds. Expect and prepare for aftershocks.

Following the earthquake:

  • Check yourself for injuries & help others.
  • Assess your situation and implement your Family Emergency Plan.
  • To determine if it is safe to stay in your home with respect to electrical and gas safety, you should have a licensed BCSA contractor perform a hazard assessment.
  • Leave your home if you believe there is immediate danger.
  • Follow guidelines for evacuation if you need to leave.

Outside and in your vehicle

  • Stay away and do not touch BC Hydro infrastructure (lines, poles, towers, hydro boxes, etc.). Assume that these may be energized and may cause harm.
  • See our visual guide to motor vehicles and safety around downed power lines
  • Refer to EMBC website for general information

Get more information on earthquakes and earthquake preparedness: