All shook up? What to do in case of another earthquake

In the wake of the June 23 earthquake that shook most of southern Ontario, Quebec and the northeastern United States, the Office of Emergency Preparedness at York University offers these "just in case" safety tips.

If you are inside during an earthquake:

  • Do not evacuate the building until the shaking stops.
  • In the case of a significant earthquake, take cover under your desk or a table until the shaking stops.
  • If you cannot take cover, roll up into as small a ball as possible and protect your head with your arms and hands.
  • Once the shaking stops, leave the building using the nearest and safest exit. Do not use the elevators.
  • Be aware that there may be some structural damage to the building and be careful as you leave the building.
  • Once outside, move as far away as possible from the building. Most injuries and deaths that happen during an earthquake are due to falling debris and glass rather than from the actual event.
  • Remain outside until you are advised that it is safe to re-enter the building.

If you are outside during an earthquake:

  • Stay outside and do not run into a building.
  • Stay as far away as possible from buildings.
  • Stay away from trees and overhead utility wires.

Although rare, the quake, which measured 5.0 on the Richter scale, follows on other recent earthquakes that have taken place in southern Ontario. Lake Ontario and Lake Erie were formed as a result of a shift in the tectonic plates in the Earth’s surface. These plates, which make up the Earth’s crust, meet along a fault line known as the St. Lawrence Rift. Recent seismic activity on the fault line includes an earthquake that occurred on May 4, 2006, that registered 2.7 on the Richter scale and another quake on Aug. 4, 2004, which measured 3.8. Both of these earthquakes were centred in Lake Ontario off of Oakville.

The epicentre of the June 23 earthquake was located approximately 56 kilometres northeast of Ottawa.

For more information on earthquake safety and general emergency preparedness information, visit the Emergency Preparedness Program Web site.