Kit sales in Victoria still strong, 11 days after earthquake

Emergency survival kit sales in Victoria have spiked and remain strong following an earthquake on Dec. 29 — the biggest to hit the area in years.

On Friday, local businesses selling earthquake kits reported unprecedented sell-outs and back orders. Seismic retrofit businesses also said they’ve been deluged with inquiries.

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“I’m the most popular guy in town right now. We’ve been swamped and we’ve been flat out for the past week,” said Mike Ursel, owner of Quake Safe, a home retrofit company.

Measured at 4.7 magnitude, the earthquake was centred near Sidney Island.

Columbia Fire and Safety Ltd. saw earthquake kit sales jump “into the hundreds” following the quake, said staffer Adam Skibo. Fifty kits in the store sold immediately and multiple back orders have been placed.

“Whenever the ground moves, it shakes people up,” Skibo said.

Total Prepare Inc. also experienced a dramatic upswing in the sale of earthquake kits.

“We’ve definitely been run off our feet since it struck. Still, to this day, we have walk-ins and online orders pouring in,” said salesperson Rachelann Nordstrom.

Custom Safety Ltd. had more than 10 times the usual amount of earthquake kit sales, numbering in the “multiple dozens,” said owner Robert Clarke.

“We’ve had people coming in to buy kits who’ve said they’re looking to move out of the area. I was shocked. Moving right off the Island,” he said.

“We’ve sold tens of thousands of kits in the last 10 years and we haven’t heard that before,” added Clarke, who has been in business for 18 years.

Earthquake survival kits contain such essentials as food, water, flashlights and battery-powered radios.

Quake Safe’s Ursel said his company had completed 15 building inspections in the past week. The company has done 50 seismic upgrades since it was established in 2011.

Another Victoria retrofit company, Shear Seismic, has fielded 25 inquires since the earthquake — including some from the mainland. Owner Marney Mutch said this is her four-year-old company’s biggest flurry of interest following an earthquake.

“I’ve been swamped. It just changed dramatically,” she said. “The feedback that I’ve got is that it scared the crap out of people everywhere.”

Mutch said Shear Seismic just completed a house inspection on Quadra Island. The company was also hired to pour a new foundation for a house on stilts on Salt Spring Island.

“Between you and me, that [earthquake] was the best Christmas present I’ve had,” Mutch said jokingly.

achamberlain@timescolonist.com

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