How high is safe from a tsunami? Four metres above sea level

Be disaster ready with food, water and clothing for seven days

To those who ascended Mount Tolmie in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, we applaud you.

Your sense of urgency and safety goes above and beyond. From all accounts, the tone of conversation atop the hill was of concern and safety.

There’s no shame in seeking higher ground. After all, it’s about survival. No doubt, others rushed to the safety of the Malahat, as many did in 2012 when Victoria was under a tsunami alert following the 7.7 magnitude Haida-Gwaii earthquake.

However, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that in Greater Victoria, we only need to get about four metres above sea level to be safe, said Capt. Maegan Thompson of Saanich’s emergency services program. Thompson spent Wednesday slammed with public inquiries on the basics, such as where to go, and what is needed in case of a disaster.

This, despite the fact all you need to know has been posted for years in the emergency section of Saanich.ca, including maps of all the low-lying, at-risk areas of Saanich.

“It takes a high profile event to create interest and in this case, people can’t help their interest,” Thompson said. “I commend people for trying to take protective measures, but driving up a high hill isn’t necessary. Moving away from the coast [is all that’s needed].”

Thompson also credited the residents of Gordon Point Estates in Gordon Head, whose participation in September’s mock-evacuation with Saanich Fire and Police offered valuable experience to those first responders who executed a rare, but real door-to-door evacuation on Tuesday.

Again, visit Mount Tolmie if you want to, it is beautiful after all. And even in the dark, Mount Douglas has equally great vistas. But let’s get out of the dark in terms of emergency preparation.

To break it down, you should keep two emergency kit options at home. An emergency kit to stay-at-home, ideally with enough food and water for seven days, and a mobile kit for evacuation, preferably in a backpack.

Stay safe, Saanich.

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