Saanich Fire Department is providing facts and fun for Tsunami Preparedness Week


It's Tsunami Preparedness Week, and the Saanich Fire Department wants to make sure people are ready in case one hits the island.

The tectonic plates that Vancouver Island sit on are overdue for an earthquake, which, if big enough, could cause a tsunami.

Saanich Fire Department’s Emergency Program Officer, Capt. Maegan Thompson, says, when the big one hits, get away from low lying areas, like beaches and harbours.

"In Greater Victoria you don't have to go very far to be safe from a tsunami.  You need to be up about 4 metres, or 13 feet, from the high tide line."

Thompson says it's not necessary to seek refuge at the top of Mt Tolmie, because, unlike Hollywood movies, tsunamis are not a wall of water.

"Tsunamis are a series of waves, and the first wave is not necessarily the highest wave.  So our messaging to people is, after that very strong earthquake, move away from the water, and stay away from the water."

The series of waves could last an hour, and because the water accumulates during this period, the waves could grow.  People should avoid the water, and wait for the all-clear from local authorities.

However, Tsunami Preparedness Week is not all doom and gloom.  The Saanich Fire Department is having some fun while educating the public, with the showing of a movie on Thursday.  Thompson says they are airing "Disaster Wars: Earthquake VS Tsunami" on Thursday in the Cinecenta at UVic.

"Throughout the movie we will pause it, and have an emergency management specialist or expert provide public education related to tsunami safety, earthquake safety, personal preparedness, and even information about what we do day to day."

She adds that the film is very far fetched and the acting is poor, so along with dispelling myths and providing education, they will take pot shots at the movie.  Thompson says this event is aimed at young adults, who are less likely to be prepared for an emergency.  She adds that UVic has a lot of students from out of the area, who could benefit from learning about the facts of tsunamis and earthquakes.

Thompson is going to be one of the presenters during the showing, and will be joined by members of Ocean Networks Canada, Emergency Management BC, and the Department of National Defence.  She adds that this event is free, which is fair because of the lousy acting and cheap special effects.

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