FirstService Residential hosted an educational seminar for council members on the topic of Earthquake Preparedness for Stratas”. The event featured a panel discussion with guest speakers Jackie Kloosterboer (Emergency Planning coordinator, City of Vancouver), Paul Murcutt (Client Executive, BFL Canada), and Fiona Therrien (Regional Director, FirstService Residential). The event was hosted at Canada House in the Village at False Creek, a property proudly managed by FirstService Residential. Council Members representing 17 different strata corporations registered for the event.
The following is a general summary of discussion points from the event:

Personal Planning

  • Less than 20% of the population in BC is prepared for an earthquake situation.
  • The key to preparing for an earthquake is being creative and planning now for a future emergency situation.
  • Selecting a ‘Family Meeting Place’ is an effective strategy for planning where to meet friends and family should an earthquake prevent you from being able to return to your home.
  • Everyone should establish an ‘Out of Area Contact’, or a person in a different city or province, who can help you stay informed and communicate to others during an earthquake situation.
  • It is important to prepare and store an emergency grab and go kit to have with you during an earthquake situation. Emergency kits are personal and should be customized to your own needs. An important consideration for your kit is including any medication you may need.
  • Preparing an emergency kit for your pet or animal is also important preparation strategy.
  • In your kitchen, place lighter cookware, such as Tupperware, in higher storage areas and heavier cookware, such as pots, in lower storage areas. This prevents heavy items from potentially injuring you during earthquake vibrations. Maintaining a supply of water and dry snacks will help you during an earthquake situation where food stores may be closed or under stocked.
  • It is important to replenish your supplies so they are fresh. A tip is to review emergency food and water supplies every six months, or every time the clocks change.
  • In your own strata, learn who your neighbours are. For example, knowing who has a barbeque in your community will be helpful in an emergency situation. Also knowing if there are elderly or disabled residents will help your community plan for who may be able to assist these residents should rescue services be unavailable.

What if an Earthquake Strikes Right Now?

  • Most municipalities will convert community centres into public shelters and reception centres assist residents.
  • Keep in mind, these centres may have limited resources depending on the situation. Should an earthquake strike, the Red Cross standard for shielding yourself is:
1.Drop Downto the floor.
2.Cover yourself under a heavy object, such a strong table.
  • If you are in your own strata unit, it is important to stay away from windows and glass by positioning yourself near an interior wall for protection.
  • Where possible, it may also be helpful to position your bed away from windows. Social media, especially Twitter, is an effective way to communicate during an earthquake situation and stay informed with updates from the city.
  • Visit BC’s provincial emergency website for more safety information at

Earthquakes and Insurance

  • 60% of strata owners do not have personal insurance.
  • During the last century, Canada has had twelve earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater.
  • The Strata Property Act does not include earthquakes as a peril that must be insured against. As such, strata corporations may choose to obtain additional earthquake insurance coverage, although most stratas do maintain coverage.
  • The lowest deductible a strata corporation will typically see on an earthquake insurance policy is 10% of the total insurable value.
  • It is important to understand how your strata’s earthquake insurance policy treats damage from aftershocks. Depending on the timing of an aftershock, your strata may face a second deductible.

Your Management Team 

  • In the event of an earthquake, it is to maintain communication with residents where possible. For example, FirstService Residential would use our ResidentAlert calling feature to send voice message updates to residents impacted by the earthquake. This has proven effective in assisting residents during the Alberta floods and Hurricane Sandy storms in communities managed by FirstService Residential.
  • Disseminating notice updates by email is another way management companies can keep residents informed during an emergency.For example, FirstService Residential would use its FirstService Residential Connect™ online community platform to distribute and post updated emergency notices for residents. 
  • Ensuring your agent maintains a call centre or support team to handle resident inquiries will also help assist with responding to residents and building emergencies during an earthquake.
Thursday February 13, 2014