Landslides & Debris

What to do during a landslide and debris flow

LANDSLIDES HAPPEN EVERY YEAR IN BC


Caused by heavy rain, human activity, or earthquakes, a landslide is any type of downward movement of rock and/or sediment. Landslides happen every year across BC and may range from nearly imperceptible movement to thousands of cubic meters of rock and debris moving at speeds greater than 100 km/h.

A debris flow is similar, but, often incorporates a large amount of water and typically results from heavy rainfall and runoff in confined channels such as steep mountain gullies and ravines. The material gains speed and energy and is concentrated into a powerful and fast moving torrent of logs, loose soil, and boulders sometimes as big as cars. As a debris flow reaches flatter ground, the energy dissipates and the debris flow spreads out to deposit material across a wide area. Review our Landslide Safety Checklist (PDF).

HOW TO PREPARE

  • Review Before an Emergency for general information on how to prepare.
  • Have a plan and practice it with your family.
  • Take an Emergency Preparedness workshop.
  • Reduce your risk by getting appropriate permits and professional advice before excavating on, or near slopes.
  • Contact the municipality if you have concerns about slope stability.
  • Encourage natural vegetation on steep slopes.
  • Look for signs of “slumping” or damage to structures near steep slopes or river banks that may indicate movement.
RECOGNIZE THE WARNING SIGNS
Call your local fire, police, or public works department if you see any of the following:
  • Rapid increase or decrease in creek water levels
  • Abnormally dirty water
  • Sudden or rapid changes in flow or sediment
  • Unusually large and recent accumulation of debris (logs, sediment, etc.)

DURING A LANDSLIDE

  • If you suspect imminent danger, evacuate immediately. Inform affected neighbours if you can, and contact your public works, fire or police department.
  • Listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
  • Be especially alert when driving, watch for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks and other indications of possible debris flow.
  • If you are ordered or decide to evacuate, take your animals with you.
  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of large or numerous animals as soon as you are aware of impending danger.
  • Stay alert and awake. Many deaths from landslides occur while people are sleeping.

AFTER A LANDSLIDE

  • Stay away from the slide area as there may be danger of additional slides.
  • Without entering the area, call out and scan for injured or trapped people and notify rescuers of their location.
  • Put your family plan into action.
  • Retrieve your Emergency Preparedness Kit.
  • Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
  • Contact family and loved ones to let them know you are okay. Use social media, or your out-of-area contact if local telephone services are unavailable.
  • Administer first aid if needed.
  • Check your home for damage. Look for broken electrical wires, gas leaks, water and sewer and know how to turn off those services. Also check for structural cracks.
  • Help a neighbour who may require additional assistance, such as those with infants, elderly people and people with disabilities.
  • Watch for flooding as deposited material may redirect water flow.
  • Consult a geo-technical expert before making any modifications to your property.
  • Restock any emergency supplies that you have used.