British Columbia·In Depth

Landslide warning signs and preparedness

Warning signs a landslide may be headed to your area, how to protect your home and what to do when a slide hits.
Large landslides in Canada are rare, but some of the biggest ones occur in the mountainous regions of B.C. (Emergency BC/Canadian Press)

Experts say these are the warning signs a landslide may be headed to your area. Here are some tips on how to protect your home and what to do when a slide hits.

Landslide warning signs

  • Springs, seeps or saturated ground in areas that are not usually wet.
  • New cracks or unusual bulges in the ground, street or sidewalks.
  • Soil moving away from foundations, or the tilting or cracking of concrete floors and foundations.
  • Sunken or down-dropped road beds.
  • Rapid increase in creek water levels, possibly accompanied by increased soil content.
  • A sudden decrease in creek water levels even though rain is still falling or just recently stopped.
  • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris.

Areas prone to landslides

  • On existing old landslides.
  • On or at the base of slopes.
  • In or at the base of minor drainage hollows.
  • At the base or top of an old fill slope.
  • At the base or top of a steep cut slope.
  • Developed hillsides where leach field septic systems are used.

Protecting your home

  • Learn about your local geology and the potential for landslides in your area.
  • Try not to increase instability. Don’t  undercut a steep bank, build near the top or base of steep slopes,  fill on steep slopes, drain pools or otherwise increase water flow down steep slopes.
  • Learn how to recognize signs of potential failure in your area. Examples include slope cracks, slope bulges, unusual seepage of water on the slope, and small rock or sediment falls.
  • Know who to notify if you recognize these signs (e.g. municipal emergency contact numbers and municipal engineers).

If you are indoors when a slide hits

  • Find cover in the section of the building that is furthest away from the approaching landslide.
  • Take shelter under a strong table or bench.
  • Hold on firmly and stay put until all movement has ceased.

If you are outside when a slide hits

  • Move quickly away from its likely path, keeping clear of embankments, trees, power lines and poles.
  • Stay away from the landslide. The slope may experience additional failures for hours to days afterwards.

Source: Government of Canada, United States Geological Survey