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Earthquake Preparation: What to do During?

October 7th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Go to a nearby safe place. If you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe. Listen and follow instructions from those charged with evacuating the premise and be sure to go to your designated meeting area and wait for further instructions.


  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the build-ing or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.


  • Stay outdoors.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach, California, earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.


  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Check your local radio news station for general information.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earth-quake.
  • Contact your employer a soon as practical and “check in” so they know you are safe.
  • Follow any instructions from emergency services such as Police or Fire Department.


  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
  • If possible, conduct a brief self assessment of your overall physical condition:
    – Are you cut/bleeding
    – Arms, hands legs condition
    – Upper body including ribs condition Check your head, ears and neck for blood or signs of being struck by debris

Include the “what to do if…” instructions above in your plan and make sure to address logical scenarios based on your location. The USGS, US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program, offers a map of earthquake activity in the U.S. which can be used as a tool in your Earthquake Prepardness Plan.

The following key resources contributed to this article and more de-tails are available online to assist you in preparing for an earthquake:
-FEMA Earthquake Preparedness
-California Emergency Preparedness Office – Most states have an “Office of Emergency Preparedness” that can be found with a simple on-line search.
-American Red Cross

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