Earthquake Safety

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An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth's surface. This shaking can cause buildings and bridges to collapse; disrupt gas, electric and phone service; and sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires and huge destructive ocean waves.

If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause deaths, injuries and extensive property damage. Here are some tips to protect your family, home and business. 

Before an Earthquake Strikes: 

  • Plan and hold earthquake drills for your family. Visit the Great ShakeOut to learn how.
  • Choose a location where family members will meet if separated during the quake.
  • Strap water heaters, appliances and TVs to wall studs.
  • Secure heavy furniture like bookcases, china cabinets, and entertainment centers with flexible fasteners and make sure they are away from beds, sofas, desks or other places where people sit or sleep.
  • Secure artwork, pictures, mirrors and ornaments to the wall with appropriate fasteners.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas, and water services to help prevent post-earthquake fires.
  • Assemble disaster survival kits to last at least 72 hours for each person in the house.
  • Protect  your business by downloading the QuakeSmart toolkit.
  • Check with local emergency managers for additional tips and safety training. 

During an Earthquake: 

  • Keep calm. Expect the earthquake to last from a few seconds to a few minutes.
  • Drop, Cover, and Hold On - If indoors, stay there until the shaking stops. Make sure to drop down to the floor and take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or an interior wall. Hold onto the furniture and keep your position.  
  • If outdoors, move into an open area away from trees, buildings, utility wires, or signs. Stay in the open until the shaking stops.  

After an Earthquake: 

  • Check for injuries.
  • Don't move injured persons unless they are in immediate danger. 
  • Turn on your TV or radio for emergency information and instructions.  
  • Check utilities for gas and/or water leaks, or broken electrical connections.
  • Be prepared to turn off utilities in the event they are damaged.  
  • Clean up medications, cleaning products, and/or flammable liquids.
  • Check food and water supplies.
  • Open cabinets carefully, to avoid objects falling out.