Emergency Preparedness

Get engaged, and be prepared!

The District of Tofino is continuously looking to engage the public and provide valuable information to help residents and businesses become better prepared for a significant emergency.

Each year, the District of Tofino participates in and hosts a range of emergency preparedness activities such as the High Ground Hike, Emergency Preparedness Week and Shake Out BC.

The Province of BC has created Prepared BC, a one-stop-shop for online preparedness information, including:

  • Hazard-specific information
  • How to build an emergency kit
  • How to prepare your household
  • How to connect with your neighbours and authorities in advance of a disaster

Emergency Planning

Tofino is committed to providing leadership and guidelines to meet the challenges associated with emergency management. When preparing for an emergency it is important to:

  • Know the hazards and make a plan
  • Prepare emergency supplies
  • Find guides and resources
  • Learn what happens in an evacuation

Photos from our High Ground Hike. Public education and engagement is a priority for the District of Tofino.

Know the Hazards - Tsunamis

Tsunamis are most often caused by huge undersea earthquakes that cause large waves. It may take hours for waves to reach the shore if an earthquake happens far away. Strong earthquakes near land could generate a tsunami that arrives in just minutes.

On the west coast of North America, tsunamis are categorized as local or distant, depending on the location of the earthquake and the size of the area affected.

Local Tsunamis

A local tsunami is generated from 1000 km or less than 1 hour of tsunami travel time from its source to the area impacted. For Tofino, it could be minutes before the tsunami reaches our shoreline. The most dangerous tsunami threat to the BC coast will follow a major "megathrust" earthquake. Such an earthquake will cause ground shaking lasting three to five minutes.

Local Tsunami Notification:

A local tsunami can reach the shoreline in minutes and may not allow for an official warning to take place. Natural signs may be your only warning to take action, such as:

  • the strong shaking from the earthquake
  • a receding ocean, or
  • a loud roar-like sound

If you are near the coast and feel a significant earthquake making it difficult to stand, you must Drop, Cover, and Hold On, and then evacuate to higher ground immediately.

Distant Tsunamis

A distant tsunami is generated from further than 1000 km away, or more than 3 hours of travel time from the tsunami's source to the area impacted. Response to a distant tsunami is significantly different than to a local tsunami. Typically, there is more time for an official warning and evacuation to safety. More evacuation infrastructure and support will be readily available during this type of event.

Distant Tsunami Notification:

The District of Tofino receives distant tsunami notifications via Emergency Management BC and the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC). The District of Tofino follows best practices by having several different notification systems within our community to achieve maximum public warning.

During an emergency event, the District of Tofino will make every effort to broadcast official tsunami alerts and information via email, telephone, and text via the Voyent Alert! Notification system.

Be Prepared

Stay informed!

Sign up for the Voyent Alert Notification System and follow the district social accounts: Tofino Emergency, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The most important thing is to seek out credible sources so you can make good decisions during a disaster.

Notification methods

During an emergency event, the District of Tofino will make every effort to broadcast official tsunami alerts and information via email, telephone, and text via the Voyent Alert! Notification system.

The District of Tofino tests the tsunami sirens silently every day and audible on the first Friday of each month. The test siren will state that it is just a test and play the "Westminster Chime."

During a real event, a loud wailing tone will be played over the siren and a message stating the level of alert and instructions will be broadcast.

Know where to go

In the event of a tsunami warning evacuate to the Community Hall and Emergency Operations Centre.

You can also check if you are in a Tsunami Hazard Area by viewing the Public GIS Portal.

Make an emergency kit for your home and your car

Build an emergency kit and grab-and-go bag to keep in your home or car, including food and water, first aid supplies, flashlights, and blankets. Keep your vehicle gassed up in case you must evacuate in a hurry.

Meet your neighbours

We're all in it together when a disaster hits. The most immediate help following a disaster will come from those directly around - your neighbours. Connecting with them today, and working together to prepare, will mean a better response and faster recovery.

Planning for the "What Ifs"

Many guides and resources are dedicated to helping British Columbians prepare for the worst. As the extreme weather events of 2021 have painfully reminded us, there's much to lose if we're not ready for the unexpected. Many have lost lives, pets, and so much more. By thinking about the "what ifs" ahead of time, we can hopefully spare ourselves some of the loss and damage from these disasters.

And yes - it can happen to you.

Tsunami Alerts

Tsunami Warning

A Warning is the highest level of tsunami alert. Warnings are issued due to the imminent threat of a tsunami from a large undersea earthquake, or following confirmation that a potentially destructive tsunami is underway. They may initially be based only on seismic information as a means of providing the earliest possible alert. Warnings advise that appropriate actions be taken in response to the tsunami threat. Such actions could include the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas and the movement of boats and ships out of harbours to deep waters. Warnings are typically updated hourly, or as conditions warrant, to continue, expand, restrict or end the Warning.

Tsunami Advisory

An Advisory is the second-highest level of tsunami alert. Advisories are issued due to the threat of a tsunami that has the potential to produce strong currents dangerous to those in or near the water. Significant inundation is not expected for areas under an Advisory, but coastal zones may be at risk due to strong currents. Appropriate actions by emergency management personnel may include closing beaches and evacuating harbours and marinas. Additionally, local officials may opt to move boats out of harbours to deep waters, if there is time to do so safely.

Tsunami Watch

A Watch is the third-highest level of tsunami alert. Watches are an advance alert that may be cancelled or upgraded to a Warning or Advisory prior to impact based on an analysis of the event. There is a potential threat to a zone contained in a Watch but communities have time to prepare. Watches are normally based on seismic information, without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway. Emergency management personnel and coastal residents should prepare to take action in case the Watch is upgraded.

Information Statement

An Information Statement informs that an earthquake has occurred and that there is no threat of a destructive tsunami affecting Coastal B.C. These statements are used to prevent unnecessary evacuations when an earthquake felt in coastal areas has a magnitude that may raise concern about a possible tsunami.


A Cancellation cancels any previously issued alerts when there is no longer a threat of tsunami. This notification will be the last bulletin the NTWC and EMBC will issue for the event.