Earthquakes may cause a number of phenomena, including ground motion, surface faulting, ground failure, and liquefaction.
An earthquake’s magnitude reflects an earthquake’s strength. Seismic zoning maps for Canada are derived from the analysis of past earthquakes, and from advancing knowledge of Canada's tectonic and geological structure.
According to the National Building Code of Canada (NBBC) 1990, the Resort Municipality of Whistler is located within Seismic Zone four, meaning Whistler is considered at high-risk from earthquake damage. Fortunately, the majority of the structures in Whistler are wood-frame and reinforced concrete, which are considered reasonably stable buildings in an earthquake due to the flexibility of these materials.
Although a rare occurrence, if a large earthquake were to occur, vulnerable infrastructure and populations would be greatly impacted, and aid from neighbouring communities would be limited or non-existent as they would deal with their own earthquake damage.
What to expect during an earthquake
Small or moderate earthquakes
These can last only a few seconds and represent no emergency risk.
- Ceiling lights may move and some minor rattling of objects may occur in your home.
- You may feel a slight quiver under your feet, if you are outside.
- If you are close to its source, you may hear a loud bang followed by shaking.
These can last up to several minutes and constitute a natural disaster, if its epicentre is near a densely populated area, or its magnitude sufficiently large for the region.
- The ground or floor will move, perhaps violently.
- Whether far away or close to the source, you will probably feel shaking followed by a rolling motion, much like being at sea.
- If you are far away from the source, you might see swaying buildings or hear a roaring sound.
- You may feel dizzy and be unable to walk during the earthquake.
- If you live in a high rise or a multi-storey building, you may experience more sway and less shaking than in a smaller, single-storey building. Lower floors will shake rapidly, much like residential homes. On upper floors, movement will be slower but the building will move farther from side to side.
- Furnishings and unsecured objects could fall over or slide across the floor.
- Unsecured light fixtures and ceiling panels may fall.
- Windows may break.
- Fire alarms and sprinkler systems may be activated.
- Lights and power may go off.
Know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake
Before an earthquake: Home preparedness checklist
Go through your home, imagining what could happen to each part of it, if shaken by a violent earthquake.
- Teach everybody in the family (if they are old enough) how to turn off the water and electricity.
- Clearly label the on-off positions for the water, electricity, and gas. If your home is equipped with natural gas, tie or tape the appropriate wrench on or near the pipe, to turn off the gas, if necessary.
- Tie the water heater to studs along with other heavy appliances (stove, washer, dryer), especially those that could break gas or water lines if they shift or topple.
- Secure top-heavy furniture and shelving units to prevent tipping. Keep heavy items on lower shelves.
- Affix mirrors, paintings and other hanging objects securely, so they won’t fall off hooks.
- Locate beds and chairs away from chimneys and windows.
- Don’t hang heavy pictures and other items over beds.
- Put anti-skid pads under TVs, computers and other small appliances, or secure them with Velcro or other such product.
- Use child-proof or safety latches on cupboards to stop contents from spilling out.
- Keep flammable items and household chemicals away from heat and where they are less likely to spill.
Consult a professional to find out additional ways you can protect your home, such as bolting the house to its foundation and other structural mitigation techniques.