Emergency Preparedness


Your guide to keeping safe. Find out everything you must know to stay safe during an earthquake or other emergency.

Emergency planning guide

Plan for an emergency with your family

Find out how to create a family plan so you and your family can stay together and stay safe during an earthquake or other emergency.

Plan for an emergency with your family

You and the other members of your family might not be together during a disaster or other emergency. It is important to have a plan that will help you communicate and find each other after the emergency.

You also need to make sure that every member of your family knows what to do if they are at home alone during an emergency.

Create a family emergency plan, and then review it with your family regularly – every six months, when the clocks change – to make sure that everyone understands it and remembers it.

What your emergency plan should include

When you create your family emergency plan, you should:

  • Identify objects in your home that could be dangerous during an emergency
  • Plan evacuation routes from every room in your home
  • Pick two meeting places where you and your family can get back together if you get separated – one close to your home, and one a little further away
  • Ask an out-of-province relative or friend to be your family contact person
  • Prepare your emergency kits
  • Teach family members how to turn off utilities, use a fire extinguisher, and call 9-1-1
  • Make arrangements for seniors and family members with special needs
  • Save digital copies of important documents – such as birth certificates and financial records – on a memory stick, or make photocopies of them

Learn more about making a family plan

Get the ten-step family emergency plan worksheet (287.05 KB)

Record your family emergency plan on one page, with this easy-to-use worksheet

Take or request a free emergency workshop

Take a free workshop in your local community centre, and learn how to prepare for earthquakes and other emergencies. Or request a free workshop for your business or community group.

Make an emergency kit

During an emergency, you could lose important services, such as electricity, water, phones, and transit.

You might even need to leave your home.

It is important that you make emergency kits – filled with food, water, clothing, medicine, money, and other emergency supplies – for you, your family, and your pets.

Want more help? Print out these emergency kit checklists

While it is possible to purchase ready-made emergency kits, it’s easy to make your own. All of the supplies you need are available at most grocery and camping supply stores. Use these lists to help you with your shopping.

If you want to purchase a kit already made, you can find them online, at medical supply stores, and at camping supply stores.

Evacuation Grab and go kit

  • Backpack or tote bag (to carry the kit items)
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Bottled water
  • Candles and matches or a lighter
  • Clothing and shoes (one change, comfortable and all-season)
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Food that requires no cooking
  • Glasses or contacts (case and solution)
  • Identification, insurance papers and other important documents
  • Medication
    NOTE: Before storing any medications, check with your family doctor or pharmacist.
  • Money (including coins)
  • Phone cards
  • Playing cards and games
  • Radio and batteries, or crank radio (to listen to news and public advisories)
  • Toilet paper and personal hygiene supplies
  • Whistle
  • Special items for babies and toddlers
  • Bottled milk
  • Diapers
  • Formula
  • Toys, crayons, and paper

Home Kit

  • Water – at least four litres per person, per day (half for drinking)
  • Food
  • Canned foods
  • Crackers and biscuits
  • Honey, peanut butter, syrup, and jam
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar
  • Coffee and tea
  • Food preparation equipment
  • Knives, forks, and spoons
  • Disposable cups and plates
  • Manual can opener and bottle opener

Contact the Office of Emergency Planning

Phone: 604-829-4375


Emergency planning for people with disabilities and special needs

Emergencies can present additional challenges for seniors and people with special needs. By planning ahead, you can be more confident about protecting yourself in any emergency.

Emergencies can create extra challenges for seniors and people with special needs. Plan ahead so you are more confident about protecting yourself in any emergency.

Personalize your emergency plan and emergency kit to meet your own needs.

To determine the type of help you will need in an emergency, do a self-assessment:

Create an emergency support network

Don’t go through an emergency alone. If you might need help during a disaster, ask your family, friends, and neighbours to join your emergency support network.

The relationship can be mutual – learn about each other’s needs and be prepared to help in an emergency.

Plan ahead with your emergency support network to:

  • Stay in contact with you during an emergency
  • Check on you immediately after an emergency
  • Keep a spare set of your keys
  • Be able to access your emergency kit at any time
  • Keep copies of important documents like information about your prescriptions, medical equipment, and other health needs
  • Learn about your personal needs and how to help you in an emergency

Need home-based care, regular treatments, and prescriptions?

If you require home-based care or regular medical treatments (for example, a home care attendant, home health aide, or visiting nurse service), include your caregivers in developing your plan and become familiar with your healthcare agency’s emergency plan.

Plan with your doctor for emergency prescription refills and other necessary medical needs. Keep a week-long supply (or more) of your prescriptions on hand.

Regular communications may be limited after an emergency, so be prepared to give clear, specific, and concise instructions to rescue workers.

Plan for your pet or service animal

If you have a pet or service animal, remember to plan for their needs.

Read these guides to learn more

Pet emergency preparedness

Learn how to prepare your pets for an earthquake or other natural disaster in Vancouver.

Pet emergency preparedness

Make your pets a part of your emergency plan. During an emergency, pets can become frightened and stressed. Having a plan and an emergency kit will make an evacuation much easier for you and your pet.

When planning for your pet, develop a buddy system with neighbours, friends, and relatives, so someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

Take your pets when you evacuate

If you have to leave your home during an emergency, don’t leave your pet behind, even if you think you will only be away from your house for a few hours. The best way to protect your pet in an emergency is to bring it with you.

Once you leave your house, there will be no way to determine how long you will be kept out of the area, and you will not be able to return for your pets.

You may wish to put stickers on the main entrances to your home to alert rescue workers of the number and types of pets inside. If you have evacuated due to emergency, write “evacuated” with a permanent marker on your door sticker.

Make a pet emergency kit

Make sure you prepare a kit with enough supplies for your pet to last at least three days. Your kit should include:

  • Vet and vaccination records in zip-locked bags, and the number for your veterinarian
  • Up to two weeks’ worth of medication, if needed
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Extra collar and leash
  • Blankets, toys, and treats
  • Cage, carrier, or kennel
  • Paper towels, disinfectant, and plastic bags for waste disposal
  • Non-spill food and water bowls
  • Cat litter
  • Food for at least 72 hours. If you use wet food, make sure you have pop-up cans or a manual can opener

The contents of your kit should be checked twice a year (when clocks change for daylight savings time). Food and water should be replaced every 2-3 months.

Learn more about pet preparedness

Get a licence for your dog

All dogs in the City of Vancouver are required to have a licence. When you buy or renew your dog licence, your pet’s information will be entered into the Vancouver Animal Control’s Emergency Pet Registry.

By having your dog included in the Emergency Pet Registry, emergency responders will know to look for your dog in the event of a disaster. This is especially important if you cannot get home to rescue your pet. Make sure your pets are wearing collars and identification tags, and consider micro-chip or tattoos for easy identification.

Need a dog license?

dog tag

You can purchase a new dog license, or renew an existing license, online with the City.

Get a licence

Learn more about keeping your pet safe

Pet emergency kit contents (1961.95 KB)

Learn exactly what you should put in your pet’s emergency kit to keep it safe and comfortable if you need to leave your home.

Free emergency preparedness workshops

Prepare for, respond to, and recover from earthquakes, tsunamis, heat waves, and other disasters in our free workshops.

Emergency safety kits

Emergency safety kit

Did you know there is a 1 in 3 chance of a major earthquake in Vancouver within the next 20-50 years?

Be prepared, by creating emergency safety kits filled with supplies you will need if you are forced to evacuate your home.

Get instructions

Contact the Office of Emergency Management

Phone: 3-1-1


Vehicle emergency preparedness

How to drive safely in a disaster. Vehicle emergency kit.

Vehicle emergency preparedness


How to drive safely in a disaster

If you are in a moving vehicle during an earthquake:

  • Stop quickly and stay in the vehicle
  • Move to a clear area away from buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires
  • Proceed with caution once the shaking has stopped, and be prepared for aftershocks
  • Avoid bridges or ramps that might be damaged
  • Listen to the radio for public service announcements for information on road closures, and what routes you can use

Vehicle emergency kit

If you are in your vehicle when an emergency happens, have these life-saving supplies with you:

  • Axe or hatchet
  • Booster cables
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Compass
  • Emergency food pack
  • Extra clothing or footwear
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit with seat belt cutter
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Matches and a survival candle in a deep can (to warm hands and drinks)
  • Methyl hydrate (to de-ice fuel lines and windshields)
  • Road maps
  • Sand, salt, or cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Survival blanket
  • Tow chain
  • Traction mats
  • Warning light or road flares

Know the disaster response routes

Stay off any disaster response routes during an earthquake or other emergency.

Identify possible hazards in your home

Learn to identify and remove potential hazards in your home, so you stay safe during an earthquake or other disaster.

Anything in your house that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire during an emergency is a home hazard.

At least once each year, inspect your home to find these possible hazards, and remove or fix them.

You should:

  • Check for electrical hazards, such as frayed extension cords or exposed wiring
  • Check for dangerous chemicals stored indoors, near heat sources, or on high shelves where they could fall over
  • Check for fire hazards, such as rags stored near electrical equipment, or portable heaters placed near furniture
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home
  • Keep at least one “A-B-C type” fire extinguisher, and check expiry dates
  • Secure your water heater, large appliances, bookcases, other tall or heavy furniture, shelves, mirrors, and pictures to wall studs
  • Add a flexible gas supply line to your water heater
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves
  • Learn the location of your main electric fuse or circuit breaker box, water service shut-off, and natural gas main shut-off
  • Contact your local utility companies for instructions on how to turn the utilities off, then teach your family how and when to turn them off

Learn more about finding hazards in your home

Get our home hazard hunt worksheet (243.46 KB)

Learn how to find potential dangers and hazards throughout your home.

Prepare your home for an earthquake

Follow these simple tips to keep yourself, your belongings, and your home safe during an earthquake.

Prepare your home for an earthquake

Couch and lamps in living room

Prepare your home for an earthquake to keep you, your items, and your home safe.

  • Place large and heavy objects on lower shelves
  • Fasten tall furniture to the walls
  • Store breakable items, such as glass jars and china, in low closed cabinets with latches
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches, or anywhere people sit
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures securely to the ceiling
  • Know the locations of electric fuse or circuit breaker box, water service shut-off, and natural gas main shut-off as you may need to turn them off after the earthquake
  • Purchase earthquake insurance

Earthquake tips on how to prepare for a:

Prevent damage to your home’s structure

  • Consider hiring a professional engineer to evaluate your building, and be sure to ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, front and back decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports, and garage doors
  • Check to see if your house is bolted to its foundation to minimize structural damage during an earthquake
  • Bolt down or reinforce your water heater and other gas appliances, using flexible connections. Your water heater may be a source of clean water after an earthquake, as long as it hasn’t been damaged. Strapping the water heater to the wall will keep it upright and keep pipes from rupturing during a quake. Replace metal piping with flexible connectors where possible

Hazards that could affect our city

Find out what natural disasters can happen where you live and work, so you can learn how to be prepared for them.

A major emergency or disaster in Vancouver is always a possibility. Know what threats you face at home, at work, and on the move.

To prepare yourself for earthquakes, floods, windstorms, and other hazards, follow the critical steps below.

Climate change exposes us to new hazards

The hazards we experience in Vancouver are changing due to climate change. It is causing changes in rainfall, flooding, and temperature, and this could lead to more frequent and severe emergencies.

We have a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to ensure that Vancouver remains a livable and resilient city. Also, we developed a hazard, risk, and vulnerability assessment that identifies and prioritizes hazards based on their likelihood and potential impact on people and property in Vancouver. This assessment is a key part of emergency management planning and response, and we will revise and update it as needed.

Hazards and how you can prepare



How to keep cool during hot weather

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight and long-sleeved clothing, and apply sunscreen regularly.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and exercise.
  • Visit one of the City’s air-conditioned libraries and community centres.
  • Fill up your water bottle at one of our drinking fountains, including temporary fountains that are set up during heat waves.

Learn the symptoms of heat illness and where you can keep cool

VISIT: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/prepare-for-other-disasters.aspx

Emergency food, water, and sanitation

Learn how to store the food and water you and your family will need if they are not readily available after an emergency.

Emergency food supplies

During a major emergency, you may not have access to grocery stores or they may run out of food supplies, so you need to be prepared with your own food. Keep a 3-day supply of food and water on hand for you, your family, and your pets.

  • Include canned foods and a can opener.
  • Do not use foods that need a lot of preparation – for instance, foods that need water or cooking.
  • Check expiry dates and replace emergency food and water supplies as they expire.

Emergency drinking water

Without water, you can only live for a few days. It is important that you store water for use during an emergency, in case your water supply is cut off. Bottled water works best, and has a shelf life of about 2 years.
  • If you store refillable water bottles, change the water every 6 months.
  • If you have drinking water delivered to your home, order extra bottles and rotate them with each delivery.
  • Do not reuse plastic milk jugs to store your water, as the toxins in the jug could enter the water.
  • Do not use the water from your hot water tank for drinking.

Purifying your drinking water

If you need to purify your drinking water before using it, either boil or disinfect it.

Wash your storage containers and strain the water

Before purifying your water:

  1. Wash the containers with soapy water, then fill them with a 10{4916e694914ea98e0f1ac982f94774157bb55f297474822d56c8cb299f6da107} bleach solution.
  2. After 5 minutes, empty the containers and let them air dry.
  3. Strain any sediment or particles from the water you are purifying by pouring it through several layers of paper towels or coffee filters.

Boil the water

  1. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes.

Disinfect the water

  1. Stir plain chlorine bleach into the water using these ratios:
    • 1 L of clear water to 2 drops of bleach (4 drops for cloudy water)
    • 4 L of clear water to 8 drops of bleach (16 drops for cloudy water)
    • 20 L of clear water to 2.5 mL (½ teaspoon) of bleach (5 ml (1 teaspoon) for cloudy water)
  2. Let the water stand for 30 minutes.
  3. When the water tastes and smells like chlorine, it is ready to drink.

warning Warning: Using too much or the wrong kind of bleach can harm you and your family. Be sure to follow the bleach directions exactly. Use only household liquid bleach that contains 5.25{4916e694914ea98e0f1ac982f94774157bb55f297474822d56c8cb299f6da107} sodium hypochlorite, and do not use scented bleaches, coloursafe bleaches, bleaches with added cleaners, or granular forms of bleach.

Emergency sanitation

Dealing with waste and debris following a disaster can be challenging. Good hygiene and hand washing are critical to prevent the spread of illness and disease. In the absence of water, use hand sanitizer, but it’s less effective than soap and water.

How to build an emergency toilet

Water and sewage infrastructure may be damaged, leaving you with no water or working toilets. If water supply is cut off, you may need to create an emergency toilet.

  1. Use watertight containers, like buckets, with tight-fitting covers.
  2. Line the container with a plastic bag to create an emergency toilet.
  3. Every time the emergency toilet gets used, add a small amount of a household disinfectant like bleach into the container to reduce odour and germs.
  4. Keep the emergency toilet covered when it’s not being used.
  5. Dispose of waste properly to avoid contamination by digging a pit 2 to 3 feet deep, at least 50 feet downhill or away from a fresh water source.

Learn more about emergency toilets, sanitizing and disposing of waste, and water substitutes for cleansing 

Contact the Office of Emergency Management

Phone: 3-1-1