Will you be prepared when the big one hits?

The big earthquake, that is.

While Canada is generally better-known for its big blizzards than big earthquakes, it’s actually more of a possibility than you might think.

It’s perhaps no surprise that the Pacific coast leads the way in seismic activity, but perhaps less-obvious is the country’s second biggest hot spot – the Ottawa and St. Lawrence River valleys. “So Ottawa, Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City, we’re not immune to these earthquakes,” says Andrew McGrath of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

On October 17th and 18th, the IBC brought its mobile earthquake simulator, ShakeZone, to Ottawa’s Sparks Street Mall. It’s a small room that rocks and shakes to simulate what a magnitude 8.0 earthquake feels like.

It’s a fun ride, with a serious message. “It was definitely exciting,” says Adam Barnett. “It kind of felt like an amusement park ride and I would be terrified if that just happened suddenly, for sure.”

In addition to giving people a sense of what a large earthquake feels like, the ICB is hoping to shake up people’s perceptions of the proper way to prepare and deal with one.

The recommended action during an earthquake is to drop down to your hands and knees to prevent an accidental fall. Cover your head, chest and stomach as much as you can. If possible, crawl to a protective covering like a sturdy desk or table. You are far more likely to be injured by falling debris than an actual collapsing building.

Once the earthquake is over, do not leave the building right away. An aftershock could jar loose window glass or other debris, causing it to fall to the street.

The Insurance Bureau is, of course, also encouraging people to think about insurance. Andrew McGrath says only 3% of homeowners in Eastern Canada are covered for earthquakes. “So it could be shocking when this happens and you go into the recovery stage and find out a lot of the damage you have isn't covered by insurance," he says.

That’s not to say a large earthquake will happen, or when. But if it did happen, you could find out there’s more than one kind of aftershock.