Earthquakes can happen anywhere, at any time, and without warning. They can cause extensive damage to roads and structures, and can cause fires, tsunamis, landslides and avalanches. Even if you aren’t in a high risk area, it’s important to be prepared for an earthquake and to know how to protect yourself and your family.
During an Earthquake: Drop, Cover, and Hold On!
Ready.gov advises everyone to remember these three steps to stay safe during an earthquake:
Drop where you are, onto your hands and knees.
Cover your head and neck with your arms. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter from falling objects. If no shelter is nearby, crawl to an interior wall away from windows only if you can reach cover without going through an area with debris. Stay on your knees and bend over to protect vital organs.
If you are under a table or desk, hold on with one hand and be ready to move with it if it moves. If not under a table or desk, hold onto your head and neck with both arms and hands. If seated and unable to drop to the floor, bend forward, cover your head with your arms and hold onto your neck with both hands.
If using a wheelchair or a walker with a seat, Lock: make sure your wheels are locked and remain seated. Cover: protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book or whatever is available. Hold On: maintain your position with head and neck covered until the shaking stops.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over and stop. Set your parking brake.
- If you are in bed, turn face-down and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
- DO NOT get in a doorway or run outside.
Check out this video series on earthquake safety and specifics on what to do different situations:
Prepare Before an Earthquake
- Practice Drop, Cover, Hold On with family and coworkers.
- Secure items like bookcases, refrigerators, televisions and objects hanging on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves.
- Create a family emergency communication plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan on a place to meet in case you get separated.
- Make a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least 3 days; a flashlight, fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Consider each person’s safety needs, including medication. Have batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment. Do not forget the needs of pets and service animals.
- Talk to your local insurance agent to see if you are covered in the event of an earthquake.
- Consider making improvements to your building to fix structural issues that could cause your building to collapse during an earthquake.
After an Earthquake
If an earthquake has just happened, there can be serious hazards such as damage to roads and buildings, leaking gas and water lines and downed power lines.
- Expect aftershocks to follow the main shock.
- Check yourself to see if you are hurt and help others if you have training. To learn how to be the Help Until Help Arrives, click here.
- If you are in a damaged building, go outside and move away from it.
- Do not enter damaged buildings.
- If you are trapped, protect your mouth, nose and eyes from dust. Send a text, bang a pipe or wall, or use a whistle so that rescuers can locate you.
- If you are in an area that experiences tsunamis, go inland or get to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops.
- Once you are safe, listen to local news reports for emergency information and instructions. Be very careful during post-disaster clean up and do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself. Wear protective clothing.