Quakes Rock Northern BC, Yukon and Alaska Monday Morning

Residents of Northern BC, the Yukon and Alaska were woken this morning by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:30am 87km northwest of Skagway, Alaska and 127km southwest of Whitehorse, Yukon.  Frequent aftershocks followed and just a couple hours after the initial quake a 6.3 magnitude quake struck not far from the original epicenter.  More than 50 other aftershocks measuring between 2.5 and 5.2 magnitude also occurred during the first 4 hours following the first quake.  Aftershocks have continued since.

Earthquakes like this remind us of the importance of being prepared, especially when they happen so close to home.  Everyone in BC needs to have a household plan and earthquake kit(s).

News outlets reporting on this story that we recommend checking out:

The Weather Network

CBC News

The Globe and Mail

Earthquake Risk Returns to Normal as Slow-Slip Event Comes to an End

Every 14 months or so the Pacific Northwest experiences a seismic cycle known as a Slow-Slip Event.  During which time, there are thousands of earthquakes (mostly small tremors) spread over typically a 2 to 6 week period.  During these cycles the risk of a large earthquake is heightened.  In a CBC article last fall, Alison Bird, an Earthquake Seismologist for the Geological Survey of Canada, said "What we think is happening is that whenever there's that reversal… it's loading extra stress onto the locked zone… It could be a last straw scenario, just that little bit of extra stress that’s going to cause that rupture to trigger … the megathrust earthquake.”

The good news is that this year's Slow-Slip Event appears to be over, so the risk of a major earthquake has returned to normal for another 14 months or so.  Over the past several weeks we've posted a few times about this year's Slow-Slip Event.  Seismic cycles such as this are always a good reminder of how unprepared we are.  It's important that every household have an earthquake kit and a plan.  For those that have a kit and a plan, Slow-Slip Events are an appropriate time to check your supplies for expired items and sit down as a family to reinforce your earthquake plan.  Keep in mind that we still live in a seismic hot zone and although Slow-Slip Events are good times to be on extra alert an earthquake can still happen in this region at any time.

Summary of the 2017 Slow-Slip Event:

As we mentioned in our Mar 31st post, it is our opinion that Feb 18th marked the official beginning of this year's Slow-Slip Event and based on the PNSN (Pacific Northwest Seismic Network) Interactive Tremor Map, Apr 7th was the end, marked by one last cluster on Vancouver Island.  This puts the Event at 48 days in duration.  This year's Slow-Slip Event quickly created a buzz when a 4.2 magnitude quake struck near Belfair, WA, on Feb 22, followed later that same evening by a 4.8 magnitude quake southwest of Port Hardy.  News outlets picked up the story and it quickly spread across social media.

This year's Slow-Slip Event had a northwesterly path and was quite active with 10,623 tremors, spread over a 48 day period.  There were some moments of pause with some days during the 48-day period seeing little to no activity.  From March 6 - 17, the Event stalled completely with no activity during that 11-day period, which made many believe it had ended.  Even though the tremor swarms had not yet reached Vancouver Island, which would have been a very unusual finale for the Slow-Slip Event.  

Leading up to the Event, with a projected start date of Feb 22nd, many experts were watching for tremor clusters and when clusters occurred on Feb 12, 13 and 14, many thought that was the start and some would still argue that it was.  If you consider Feb 12 the start date that puts the duration of this year's Slow-Slip Event at 54 days with almost 11,000 tremors.  The previous Slow-Slip Event from December 22, 2015 to January 16, 2016, saw approximately 9100 tremors over 25 days.  When you compare these numbers, you can see how this year saw higher activity in a much more spread out way.  Every Slow-Slip Event has its own unique characteristics and this years was certainly no exception.

Earthquake Risk Still Heightened As Slow-Slip Event Continues

This blog post is a follow-up to our Feb 13th post "Earthquake Risk Heightened Over Next Few Weeks".  Approximately every 14 months the Pacific Northwest experiences a seismic cycle known as a Slow-Slip Event.  During which time there are thousands of earthquakes (mostly small tremors) spread over typically a 2 to 6 week cycle.  As we reported in our Feb 13th post, the likelihood of a major earthquake occurring is heightened during these Slow-Slip Events.  With risk being heightened during Slow-Slip Events, leading up to and during them would be a very good time to make sure your household is prepared.  Have an earthquake kit and a plan for your family.  Check your supplies for expiry and sit down as a family to reinforce your earthquake plan.

The estimated start date of this years' Slow-Slip Event was Feb 22nd based on the 14 month guideline.  Mother nature, of course, does not follow set schedules, so we we're keeping a very close eye on the data reported by the PNSN (Pacific Northwest Seismic Network) Interactive Tremor Map.

On Feb 12th there was a small cluster of tremors in the area between Everett, WA and Victoria, BC.  Followed by a much larger cluster the following day.  A counterpart Facebook Page, Earthquake Early Warning British Columbia, began reporting that these clusters might be the start of this years' Slow-Slip Event.  The page is run by Kent Johansen a Research Engineer at UBC and an avid Emergency Preparedness Advocate.  We agreed with this conclusion and mentioned it in our Feb 13th post.  The tremors continued into the following day, but then tapered off.

A few days later on Feb 18th another cluster happened west of Seattle and it is this day that I believe marked the official beginning of this year's Slow-Slip Event.  The tremors began to taper off again at the start of March and almost seemed to take a break entirely from Mar 6th to the 17th, which made us think the Slow-Slip Event might be over.

On Mar 18th the tremor clusters came roaring back.  Since then they've slowly made their way north to Vancouver Island in the region south of Nanaimo.

The last Slow-Slip event in late Dec 2015 and early/mid Jan 2016, saw the clusters move in the opposite direction starting on Vancouver Island and making their way south to toward Olympia, WA.  Although the tremors are moving in the opposite direction this time around we can still expect the start/end points to be similar.  Based on the current speed at which the clusters are moving north we can expect it to last another week or so.  Below is a map that illustrates the cluster path of the last Slow-Slip event colour-coded by time (oldest in blue, newest in red).


John Vidale, a seismologist who operates the popular Dutchsinse You Tube channel, also recently reported on Mar 27th his prediction of a 6 to 6.5 magnitude earthquake in the west-northwest tip of the Slow-Slip area within a week or so.  This puts Vancouver Island and the BC Lower Mainland in the cross-hairs of his prediction.  It's important to note that despite being an accomplished seismologist, Vidale's theories regarding predicting earthquakes remain controversial in mainstream seismology.  We advise that people watch his videos and draw their own conclusions.

We need to be smarter about how we approach emergency preparedness in BC.  If risk is heightened during Slow-Slip Events, then leading up to and during them would be a very good time to make sure your household is prepared.  Have an earthquake kit and a plan for your family.  Check your supplies for expiry and sit down as a family to reinforce your earthquake plan.


Learning from the Great East Japan Earthquake

6 years ago on March 11 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake shook the very fabric of the Japanese people and the world for that matter.  The quake, which was felt at distances greater than a 2500 km radius, struck off the northeast coast of Japan.

The quake itself and the resulting tsunami killed over 20,000 people.  Each year we pay our respects to those that lost their lives and those that continue to struggle in the aftermath of this disaster.  Those wishing to make a donation to the continuing relief efforts may do so through the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

It's frightening the similarities between this quake, now known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the projections of what the Big One will look like in BC.  It is predicted to occur at roughly the same distance off the coastline.  It is predicted to be roughly the same magnitude at 9.0.  Even the geological landscape is similar.  These similarities mean we can learn a great deal from this tragic event.  


So What Can We Learn from the Great East Japan Earthquake?


1) The Big One's Impact Will Stretch Farther Than Most of Us Could Possibly Imagine

The Great East Japan Earthquake was felt at a greater than 2500km radius.  To put this in perspective, here is a map that shows the approximate projected epicentre of The Big One and what a 2500km radius looks like around it.

The Big One could be felt as far away as Northern Mexico and parts of western Ontario, yet people in Northern BC commonly and smugly comment on how safe they feel.  We all need to realise that this is an event that will impact the entire continent in one way or another.  It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it will eventually happen.  It's not something to fear, but it needs to be part of our culture and way of thinking/preparing.  Making fun of people for having an earthquake plan or an earthquake kit needs to stop and greater pressure needs to be placed on those that refuse to prepare as they will be the ones that cause an extreme strain on our emergency personnel in the event of a major earthquake. 


2) Liquefaction Will Occur  

Liquefaction describes a phenomenon where saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to shaking.  Liquefaction will occur in select areas across Coastal Vancouver Island, the BC Lower Mainland and pretty much the entire Southern BC Coastline.  As urban sprawl continues in the BC Lower Mainland, liquefaction becomes more and more of a concern.  In fact, it's a severe concern for municipalities like Richmond, Delta, and Chilliwack.


3) Tsunami Waves Almost a Certainty

There is an extremely high risk of tsunami waves similar to those that occurred in Japan that will cause significant damage to western Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii Islands, and southeastern Alaska.  The BC Lower Mainland may also be impacted by tsunami waves, but certainly not to the same extent.  If you haven't already, educate yourself on how tsunamis work and what tsunami evacuation routes exist in your community.


4) Vancouver Island Won't Sink 

A popular belief perpetrated by fear and misinformation on social media and in the news is that Vancouver Island will sink in the event of a major earthquake.  In my extensive research I've come across no scientific evidence to support this claim.  The main island of Japan has a similar rocky geological makeup to Vancouver Island and it didn't sink nor did any significant parts of it sink.  Furthermore, the quake of 1700 didn't sink Vancouver Island either, so why would we expect the next one too.

Liquefaction, which many quote as the reason Vancouver Island will sink only applies to saturated soil, but Vancouver Island is primarily hard rock.  Now don't get me wrong, liquefaction will cause plenty of problems on Vancouver Island, but the island itself will not sink.


    5) Surviving the Earthquake is the Easy Part

    Unfortunately, people die during major earthquakes.  It's a difficult subject to talk about, but an important one.  Of the over 20,000 people who tragically lost their lives in the Great East Japan Earthquake over 90% of them were a result of the tsunami waves and survival aftermath not the initial quake itself.  Many stood by and watched as the water levels slowly rose, not realising the water would continue to rise.  By the time they realised they were in danger it was too late.  These are accounts I've read from many survivors recounting the terrible events that destroyed their communities.

    It's important that if you live in a tsunami-risk zone and a major earthquake occurs, grab your earthquake kit and follow the tsunami evacuation routes to higher ground immediately.  Have a household emergency plan that involves everyone meeting at a specific and safe evacuation point.  This way, if you aren't together at the time of the quake you won't waste valuable evacuation time looking for each-other.  You just head straight to your meet point at your designated safe location.

    BC Tsunami Notification Zones

    Less than an hour after the earthquake in Japan, the first of many tsunami waves hit the coastline.  The tsunami waves reached run-up heights of up to 128 feet (39 metres) and travelled inland as far as 6 miles (10 km).  You can use this as a framework for your own evacuation plans.


    6) Displacement and How It Makes an Earthquake Kit a Necessity!

    Our company mandate is to educate people regarding emergency preparedness and to help them get prepared by having supplies on hand in the event of a major earthquake.  People often ask us, what good a kit will do in the event of a major earthquake?  To answer this I want to talk about displacement.  Following the Great East Japan Earthquake there were more than 500,000 people left homeless and left to survive on relief efforts and what they had on their person following the quake.

    Take another example closer to home.  A recent study by VC Structural Dynamics LTd. and headed by UBC veteran civil engineering professor Carlos Ventura, determined that should a quake happen in the next 50 years, 30% of Victoria's buildings will suffer so much damage they would collapse or have to be demolished.  When the structural integrity of your home, apartment, office building, etc, is compromised you will be left displaced and you'll need to survive with only the supplies you carry with you.  You will want to have a kit that has basic items you'll need without being too bulky.

    Displacement puts an overwhelming strain on relief camps that will be set up following a major earthquake in BC and there may simply not be enough supplies available for everyone.  If you have your own basic supplies in an earthquake kit you will be able to survive with no aid until emergency personnel are able to get the situation under control.  Basic items such as:

    • Water and food for 72hrs to a week
    • Radio for listening to emergency broadcasts
    • Hooded rain ponchos to keep you dry
    • Tube tents to create shelter
    • Mylar blankets or sleeping bags to stay warm at night
    • Waterproof matches to make a fire
    • Flashlights and candles for lighting.
    • First aid kit to infections caused by minor injuries.
    • Duct tape, army knife, nylon utility cord, work gloves, etc, in case you need to improvise.

    It's important to have a household emergency plan and an emergency preparedness kit.  You also need to check the supplies in your kit for expired and no longer working product on occasion.  We offer a free water and food ration tracking service where we'll track the expiry dates for you and notify you a few months before your items are set to expire.  If you purchased your earthquake kit through us you're already enrolled in this program.





    Earthquake Risk Heightened Over Next Few Weeks

    Roughly every 14 months the Pacific Northwest goes through a seismic cycle known as a slow-slip event.  For about a two to four week period the region will experience thousands of small earthquakes, unfelt to the residents of the region.  However, not all the earthquakes associated with slow-slip events go unfelt.  Residents of Vancouver Island and the BC Lower Mainland will no doubt remember December 29, 2015 when a 4.7 magnitude quake struck in the late hours of the evening near Victoria rattling houses across Southwestern, BC.  If you didn’t feel it, you sure heard about it at work or on social media.  It was the talk of the town for weeks following the event.  The tremendous overreaction of residents showed how drastically under-prepared and in denial many of us are.

    This quake was one of almost 8000 earthquakes during the last slow-slip cycle, which occurred from December 22, 2015 to January 16, 2016.  I’m sure some of you are already using your hands to count out when the next slow-slip event is going to happen.  I’ll save you the trouble.  14 months from December 22, 2015 would be February 22, 2017, but since the 14 month window is approximate the next slow-slip cycle could start any day now.  In fact, according to the Earthquake Early Warning British Columbia Facebook Page it may have already started, yesterday.  The page is run by Kent Johansen a Research Engineer at UBC, and he's been keeping a very close eye on things in anticipation of the next slow-slip cycle.

    In a CBC article last fall, Alison Bird, an Earthquake Seismologist for the Geological Survey of Canada, said "What we think is happening is that whenever there's that reversal… it's loading extra stress onto the locked zone… It could be a last straw scenario, just that little bit of extra stress that’s going to cause that rupture to trigger … the megathrust earthquake.”

    Now this isn't to say that the Big One could only happen during a slow-slip event, but the odds are significantly higher that it will.  Kind of like how the odds of getting in a car accident are increased during rush hour or bad weather.

    So we have a pretty good idea of when slow-slip events are going to occur, and there's a heightened risk of the Big One occurring during slow-slip events, so why aren't we more aware of slow-slip events?  Bird said that the information is available on their website, and they used to send out press briefings all the time, but it's hard to get people interested in an event that happens so regularly with no impact.
    That's the problem with the Big One.  It happens so infrequently that it's easy to forget about or ignore, but it's coming.  It's coming whether you or possibly your descendants are prepared or not.  We need to be smarter about how we approach emergency preparedness in BC.  If risk is heightened during slow-slip events, then leading up to slow-slip events would be a very good time to make sure your household is prepared.  Have an earthquake kit and a plan for your family.  Check the supplies for expiry and sit down as a family to reinforce your emergency plan.

    An Earthquake Kit in Every Home

    Those of you that have placed an order with us know how passionate I am about my mission to put an earthquake kit in every home. As the founder of the company I try whenever possible to personally deliver the kits, so that our clients can build a personal relationship with me.

    I was recently asked by someone why I don't have my face up on the website being that I'm so involved with the business. So this post is my way of introducing myself to any potential clients and to explain where the vision of "an earthquake kit in every home" came from.

    Back in 2012 when the 7.8 magnitude quake hit Haida Gwaii, it caught me and many others a bit off-guard. Having been raised in the BC Lower Mainland I was well aware of the earthquake dangers and I had even felt a couple before, but like most others I was completely unprepared. I always thought getting an earthquake kit was too expensive or too much work.

    We lived in a high-rise in Surrey at the time and I could see the high-rise across from us swaying as the earth moved. I thought for sure this was the quake we had been waiting for, the one we'd all heard about, but a few seconds passed and everything went back to normal. When I learned that the quake happened so far away I began to imagine what a 10 magnitude quake closer to home would be like. I started researching the likelihood of something worse happening in my lifetime and my apathy started to dwindle away.

    The next day I went to work and all thoughts of an earthquake kit had already vanished until a colleague and I went for coffee that afternoon and the topic came up. I commented on how much the quake had made me think and that I'm sure many others in Vancouver were going through the same exercise. Jokingly, I said a man could make a killing today selling earthquake kits door-to-door. We both had a good laugh about that one.

    A couple weeks later I started building my kit, but the conflicting information online about what to put in your kit and how often I'd have to replace everything and that everything would need to be replaced at different times, left me feeling overwhelmed. I quickly began to remember why I didn't have an earthquake kit. I started looking online at companies that sold kits, but that would require shipping, which was costly and inconvenient. I say inconvenient, because anyone that works during the day or has ever lived in an apartment building knows what a pain it is to have things shipped to you via Canada Post.

    I remember thinking, I wish someone would tell me exactly what I need, put it all together for me, sell it to me at the same price as it would cost me to put it together myself, arrange a delivery date and time with me, follow through on delivery, and then track the expiry dates for me. I know I'm a bit of a demanding person, but I was surprised to see that in an earthquake hot zone like Metro Vancouver, no service such as this existed.

    A few more years passed and in late 2014 I still did not have an earthquake kit. Earthquakes became more and more prominent in the news and I decided to take action. A couple months later was founded with a vision to put an earthquake kit in every home in the BC Lower Mainland. And funny enough the first kit we sold was to me and my family finally had an earthquake kit. I've since added a kit to my car and office and we as a company now serve customers across Canada.

    Emergency Preparedness, don't rely on anything you can't physically touch

    Emergency Preparedness is a hot topic these days in BC and as the owner of a company that sells Earthquake Kits I'm obviously thrilled this is the case.  Not just for my own self interest, but because it forces people to take action to protect themselves.  Sometimes I feel like a deflated Jerry Maguire pleading with Rod Tidwell to "help me, help you" when I'm out there in the community talking to people about Emergency Preparedness and when major events occur that shake people out of apathy it makes my job much easier.  I really wish people didn't wait until disaster strikes to take action, but let's just say that I'm glad to see the good come out of bad situations.  The province and the local municipal governments have sprung into action providing more and more extremely valuable information on their websites and on social media.  But with all this information accessible at the click of a button it's easy for people to rely too heavily on web resources.

    A few weeks ago we got a glimpse of what I'm talking about when over 500,000 local residents finding themselves without power for longer than a couple hours took to the internet to see when their power would be restored only to find that BC Hydro's website was down.  Global News and other news providers touched on the subject quoting an apologetic Simi Heer at BC Hydro, but everyone almost seemed to make it out like an unfortunate coincidence.  As a person with a background in Web Development I can tell you that this was most certainly a result of BC Hydro's website not being setup to handle that level of web traffic and it crashed.  Now imagine millions of people flooding the internet following a major earthquake.  

    Anyone, anywhere that has their own website, be it government agencies, major international businesses right down to your neighbor and his crappy food blog, at some point have to decide what level of traffic their website will be able to handle.  After all, there is a cost to the traffic capacity you choose for your website and it's simply not practical for a website that only sees 1000 visitors per month on average to pay for a capacity of 500,000+ visitors in 1 day.  Whether or not those managing important web resources like BC Hydro should be setup to handle worst case scenario is a separate conversation entirely.  Furthermore, did anyone else notice how difficult it was to get a phone call through on your cell phone on the day of the storm, because I sure did.  In the event of a major disaster keep in mind that cell phone reception will also be unreliable as the network will be completely overwhelmed in the event of a major disaster.

    What I'm simply trying to say here is that when a major earthquake does hit our region important web resources will be rendered inaccessible, so make sure you have printed off the resources you will need in the event of an emergency and you've put together an action plan with your loved ones that doesn't involve phoning one-another.

    When it comes to emergency preparedness, don't rely on anything you can't physically touch.



    Now offering free shipping to anywhere in Canada and the US is pleased to announce that our continued growth will allow us to now offer free shipping on all our earthquake kits to anywhere in Canada and the US.  So shop away everyone and we look forward to processing your order.

    Now Offering Free Shipping Across Canada

    Being based in the BC Lower Mainland we have, so far, targeted residents in BC Lower Mainland communities.  We are pleased to announce that we are now offering free shipping anywhere in Canada on orders over $100.  A $15 shipping charge will apply on any orders under $100 being shipped to locations outside the BC Lower Mainland.  As always we will continue to offer free hand-delivery on all orders anywhere in the BC Lower Mainland.  So come one come all and see why we are quickly earning a reputation as the best Earthquake Kits in the industry.

    Going Door-to-Door to 'Shake' People Out of Apathy

    I'm pleased to announce our plans to branch out our business and go door-to-door across the BC Lower Mainland to educate households on the importance of having an earthquake kit in their home, vehicle and office.  Every time there is an earthquake in BC the sale of earthquake kits skyrockets, but it's not good enough to wait for the next one to peak people's interest as the next one could be "The Big One" and then we are too late. We've all heard about "The Big One", a mega-thrust earthquake that's expected to hit the region at some point in the future, so the question is why are so many of us unprepared for something that most experts agree is inevitable.

    When I ask people if they have an earthquake kit in their home, the answer is mostly "no". That's like going boating without a life jacket when you don't know how to swim. It's crazy, you just wouldn't do it. Based on my conversations with people I'd estimate that less than a third of homes in the BC Lower Mainland have an earthquake kit and that's terrifying. By going straight to people's doors and offering hand delivery of our kits we are attempting to resolve the most common barrier that prevents people from having a kit in their home, which is the time and hassle of shopping for all the items that comprise a reasonable earthquake kit. 

    Part of the door-to-door initiative will be to survey the percentage of homes that have an earthquake kit and to provide information to those that wish to build their own earthquake kits rather than buy it through I want to work closely with Emergency Services in communities across the Lower Mainland. My goal is to put an earthquake kit in every home and this will take tremendous cooperation from everyone in the community. I see this less as a business and more as a movement. A movement to shake people out of apathy and help them help themselves.