Tsunami Notification FAQs


  1. January 23, 2018 Tsunami Warning Overview

    • The District of Saanich takes emergency preparedness seriously and works with other agencies at the local and provincial level to ensure responsive and appropriate action is taken during a potential or actual emergency event.
    • Saanich offers free sessions to the public on how to prepare themselves and their families for all types of emergencies
    • Upon receiving the Tsunami Warning issued by Emergency Management B.C., Saanich staff began sending public messages and activated an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). EOCs are used when a large, coordinated response is required to mitigate a potential emergency.
    • Saanich staff began direct contact with residents in areas of higher risk. Shortly thereafter, the warning was cancelled and door-to-door efforts ended.
    • Saanich staff and volunteers set up a Reception Centre at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre as a place to gather and to receive updated information.
    • The public at large was informed of the warning and subsequent cancellation through social media streams including (@SaanichEP and @SaanichFire on Twitter), the Saanich.ca website, traditional media and government authorities (Emergency Management B.C., The National Tsunami Warning Center).
  2. What has Saanich done to plan for a tsunami?

    In 2013, every household within a tsunami planning zone received notification by mail of their risk. According to scientific research, the risk of a significant tsunami affecting Saanich is small when compared to the communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Nonetheless, it is important that residents understand the risks and be prepared to take precautions.

    That same year, the Capital Regional District (CRD) hired a consultant to conduct a tsunami risk assessment and to identify tsunami planning zones for CRD residents. The best available data suggests that in most areas of the Capital Region, 4 metres or 13 feet above high tide is a safe elevation. The results of the model are intended to inform emergency planning and to help the public understand areas most likely safe from a tsunami.

    Saanich has developed and tested a comprehensive evacuation plan, based on learnings from staff and volunteers who deployed to support the provincial wildfire response in summer 2017.

  3. How do notification systems work?

    At this time there are public notification solutions available to local governments and their residents, most of which are subscriber based.  They do not notify based on the proximity of the subscriber related to the risk, rather they notify all subscribers regardless of location.  Saanich continues to look at technology based solutions that are both reliable and functional as a way to add to existing notification tools and protocols.

  4. Does Saanich have a subscriber based public alerting system?

    Saanich does not have a subscriber based alerting system. While this is a potential tool to use during an emergency event, having an alerting system does not reduce or change the requirement for local governments to ensure all their residents who require notification are notified.

  5. Is Saanich planning to acquire a public alerting system?

    Saanich is actively engaged as a local government authority in seeking out technology based solutions that are both reliable and functional as a way to add to existing notification tools and protocols.

  6. What are the risks of a tsunami in Saanich?

    As confirmed by scientific studies, there is a low risk of tsunamis in Saanich.  In all areas of Saanich that are in close proximity to the ocean, an elevation of 4 metres or 13 feet above the highest tide line is deemed safe.  Because of the geography of our coastline, there are very few areas that may experience any impact. 

    In Saanich, 137 structures intersect with the Tsunami Hazard Zone, primarily located in the Cadboro/Telegraph Bay area, which were identified in a study carried out by the CRD in 2006 and validated again in 2013.

  7. How can I find which areas are at risk of a tsunami?

    Our website has information on Tsunamis, including brochures that include maps.  Or, you can go to SaanichMap where you can turn on the tsunami risk line and zoom in, out and scroll on the online map.

  8. How will I be notified if I am at risk of a tsunami?

    The first notification that a tsunami may occur will be an earthquake where you feel strong shaking.  If you feel a strong earthquake or observe the signs of a tsunami, and you are within the Saanich tsunami risk area, you should take protective measures.

    In the event of a Tsunami Warning issued by Emergency Management B.C., the District of Saanich will prioritize sharing accurate public information. This will be done using traditional media, social media (@SaanichEP and @SaanichFire on Twitter) and the website, Saanich.ca.

  9. What should I do if I am notified of a Tsunami Warning?

    Go to higher ground or inland areas 4 metres (13 feet) above the high tide line.

  10. Is there a way I can sign up for tsunami notifications?

    The National Tsunami Warning Center issues tsunami information for the continental U.S. and Canada. You can sign up on Twitter: @NWS_NTWC. Be sure to allow for push notifications.

    The International Tsunami Information Centre also has notification options: http://itic.ioc-unesco.org

  11. How to best prepare for a tsunami or other emergency?

    The Saanich Emergency Program offers regular free preparedness presentations as well as resources and information on personal and family preparedness.