Sometimes in life, ignorance truly is bliss.
For example, did you know that a chocolate product in the United States on average has 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams? There is also an average of one rodent hair per 100 grams of chocolate. These are not some made up figures, this information comes straight from the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook.
See? In this particular case, being ignorant of this fact would be great because it would allow you to enjoy delicious chocolate bars without conjuring up mental images of the potential insects that make up the “contamination fragments”.
These contaminants have been deemed insignificant, posing no risk to a consumer’s overall health, therefore it’s O.K if we attempt to utilize some ignorance here to enjoy our chocolate treats once again. Although we can forget about rat hairs in chocolate, ignorance is absolutely NOT bliss when it comes to the facts relating to dangers that could destroy our homes and even risk the lives of our loved ones.
B.C’s Natural Disasters
British Columbia is one of the most exquisite locations in the world for a person to call home. Unfortunately, it seems that some of the most sought after locations in the world tend to be the location of the majority of natural disasters. For example, we all know about the lifestyle in California- palm trees, perfect temperatures and celebrities. Most people are also aware that due to the location of the fault lines, California will very likely experience a catastrophic earthquake in the future that will claim the lives of many. So why do people live there? Well it seems that natural disasters happen infrequently enough that people accept the risk for the reward of having a beautiful place to live.
British Columbia falls into the same boat. Being located next to the ocean, close to fault lines and having gigantic mountains creates many opportunities for Mother Nature to brew up a little havoc here and there. If you live in the Okanagan Valley like the team here at Building Pro Inspections does, you may be wondering what potential natural disasters could affect the integrity of your home and more importantly the safety of your family.
The last major B.C earthquake that struck when this article was written was May 1st, 2017. This was a pair of magnitude 6.2 earthquakes that rattled Northern B.C, which have been followed by hundreds of aftershocks, many of which measuring over a magnitude of 4. Natural Resources Canada has an Earthquake Map which allows you to see the location and severity of all the earthquakes that have happened in Canada over the past 30 days.
On January 26-1700, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 violently rattled and smashed British Columbia. 300 years later, scientist predict a one-in-10 chance of a similar massive earthquake occurring in the next 50 years around the B.C coast.
A house shaking earthquake occurred in the Okanagan only last year with a magnitude of 4.1. To put into perspective the difference between that earthquake and the giant earthquake scientists are predicting- The “Mega-quake” would be approximately 3 million times stronger and would without a doubt be the worst natural disaster in Canada’s history.
Are you prepared for an earthquake? What can you do?
It is recommended that you have a 72-hour emergency kit that would bridge the gap between when the disaster occurred and when government services could begin to provide aid. It would also be a good idea to review your house insurance policy. Do they protect against damages incurred from earthquakes, and if so, is the added premium worth the protection? If your family is aware of the probability of earthquakes occurring, and they know what to do when one strikes, the likelihood of injuries and death drops dramatically.
This is a disaster we can all relate to this spring. Recently in Kelowna, a state of emergency was declared as flood waters invaded the homes of many residents. Those with insurance covering floods are thankful, will those who are without could be shelling out thousands of dollars. It is estimated that only 10-15% of Canadians have “overland” flood insurance leaving the rest extremely vulnerable in situations like this.
If you have been affected by the flooding personally, we recommend looking into the Disaster Financial Assistance program that the government is currently offering.
This is not just a problem that has affected the Okanagan Valley. All of B.C is vulnerable, especially those who live along the Fraser River system. It is estimated that a major overflow of that river could be Canada’s most costly natural disaster with damages exceeding 30 billion dollars.
Aside from making sure your insurance policy is up to date and covers all aspects of flooding, what else can you do as a homeowner to help protect against the rising waters of spring? Ensuring that the area surrounding your home is properly levelled is paramount. Do you live near a river or creek system? Expect the worst and store your valuable goods in the attic instead of your basement. If you don’t have a sump pump for your basement get one ASAP; it will be an investment you won’t regret.
Avalanches and Mudslides
If you are a fan of skiing, or have driven through the mountains at all during a Canadian winter, you have likely heard all the warnings relating to avalanches. Every single winter, lives are lost in the tidal waves of snow that make their way down the mountains. Unless you live in an isolated area near the base of a mountain, your main home is likely safe from the damages an avalanche can bring.
If you are one of the residents that has decided to live right amongst the mountains, or you own a ski-lodge or cabin in these locations, be very aware that your current insurance policy likely will not cover any damages incurred from an avalanche. It may be worth giving the company a call to investigate possible coverage.
It’s not just the snow you have to worry about either. When everything begins to thaw out, dirt and rocks can become a river of mud very fast. A mudslide can be just as dangerous and devastating as an avalanche, with the power to bulldoze a home away before your eyes. Earlier this spring, two homes were completely destroyed from a mudslide near Tappen, just north of Kelowna. Again, if you live in an area that is prone to mudslides, inspect your insurance policy, inquire about coverage, and weigh the risks.
Although natural disasters can be terrifying, they are often very survivable. The key is preparation. Have an emergency kit and a plan of action if disaster strikes. The province of British Columbia has its own Emergency Plan which will give you advice on how to survive a whole slew of events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and even disease outbreaks.
You are now much more prepared to face Mother Nature at her worst. Preparation is more than half the battle when it comes to disaster- but also when buying or selling your home that you work so hard to protect. Remember, if you are going through a real estate transaction, Building Pro is here for all your inspection needs. Knowledge is power, and the knowledge pertaining to a home could save you thousands of dollars down the road.