What should I do DURING an earthquake?

  1.  If you are INDOORS--STAY THERE! Get under a desk or table and hang on to it (Drop, Cover, and Hold on!) or move into a hallway or against an inside wall. STAY CLEAR of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances. GET OUT of the kitchen, which is a dangerous place (things can fall on you). DON'T run downstairs or rush outside while the bldg is shaking or while there is danger of falling and hurting yourself or being hit by falling glass or debris.
  2. If you are OUTSIDE--get into the OPEN, away from buildings, power lines, chimneys, and anything else that might fall on you.
  3. If you are DRIVING--stop, but carefully. Move your car as far out of traffic as possible. DO NOT stop on or under a bridge or overpass or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs. STAY INSIDE your car until the shaking stops. When you RESUME driving, watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and bumps in the road at bridge approaches.
  4. If you are in a MOUNTAINOUS AREA--watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees, and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.
  5. If you are near the OCEAN--see these safety rules from NOAA's Tsunami Warning Center.

Learn More:

Related Content

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Why should people in the eastern U.S. be concerned about earthquakes?

1) Severe earthquakes have occurred in the Eastern U.S.: In November of 1755, an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 6.0 and a maximum intensity of VIII occurred about 50 miles northeast of Boston, Massachusetts. Boston was heavily damaged. Other strong earthquakes recorded in the continental US were centered in southeastern Missouri near...

What are the Great ShakeOut earthquake drills?

ShakeOut GIF ShakeOut GIF showing what to do in an earthquake if you are near a sturdy desk or table.(Public domain.) The Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are based on scenario earthquakes that could effect the area if they were to actually take place. Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills are an...

What is the "Triangle of Life" and is it legitimate?

The "Triangle of Life" is a misguided idea about the best location a person should try to occupy during an earthquake. Based on observations of an earthquake in Turkey, the idea doesn't apply to buildings constructed within the United States. Drop, cover, and hold under a table or desk is still the best recommendation , according to the American...

What do I do AFTER an earthquake?

WEAR STURDY SHOES to avoid injury from broken glass and debris. Expect aftershocks CHECK FOR INJURIES If a person is bleeding, put direct pressure on the wound, use clean gauze or cloth if available If a person is not breathing administer CPR DO NOT attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in further danger of injury COVER injured...

What can I expect in my house when an earthquake occurs? How do I identify it? What can be done?

The contents of your home may be damaged and can be dangerous: Shaking can make light fixtures fall, refrigerators and other large items move across the floor, and bookcases and television sets topple over. IDENTIFY: Look around your house for things that could fall or move. Ask yourself if your cupboard doors could fly open (allowing dishes to...

What can I do to be prepared for an earthquake?

Estimate what EQ of what size are likely to occur (geology) Given the EQ size we then estimate what the shaking will be (seismology) Given the shaking estimate the response of different types of buildings (EQ engineering). Only with all these steps can we act as a society to enact bldg. codes and retrofitting programs to make our community safer...

What emergency supplies do I need for an earthquake?

Fire extinguisher Adequate supplies of medications that you or family members are taking Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies First-aid kit and handbook Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries Portable radio with extra batteries Water for each family member for at least two weeks (allow at least 1 gallon per person per...

What should I NOT do during an earthquake?

DO NOT turn on the gas again if you turned it off; let the gas company do it DO NOT use matches, lighters, camp stoves or barbecues, electrical equipment, appliances UNTIL you are sure there are no gas leaks. They may create a spark that could ignite leaking gas and cause an explosion and fire DO NOT use your telephone, EXCEPT for a medical or...
Filter Total Items: 9
Date published: October 18, 2017

Are You Ready to ShakeOut on October 19?

Do you know what to do the moment the ground starts shaking? Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

Date published: October 9, 2015

Los Angeles will have the nation's toughest earthquake safety rules

Los Angeles will have the nation's toughest earthquake safety rules

Date published: June 3, 2015

ESC Seminar: HayWired Scenario Progress Discussion

ESC Seminar: HayWired Scenario Progress Discussion

Date published: May 12, 2010

Congressional Briefing -- Citizen Science and Earthquakes: Reducing the Risk Through the Power of People

In the United States, 1 in 4 people live with the risk of earthquakes. The U.S. Geological Survey and its partners are designing innovative tools to better detect earthquakes and share critical information. The involvement of citizens is key, as decisions made before and immediately after an earthquake can save lives and protect property.

Date published: October 28, 2008

Earthquakes? Don’t Freak Out--ShakeOut!

What if you knew that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake would happen in less than three weeks? In a new video interview, USGS earthquake scientist Dr. Lucy Jones explains that millions of Southern Californians will be preparing as if they do know, thanks to the Great Southern California ShakeOut.

Date published: January 3, 2008

Earthquakes claim 709 lives in 2007

At least 709 deaths resulted from earthquake activity worldwide in 2007, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and confirmed by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Date published: April 25, 2005

Are You Safe When A Natural Hazard Strikes? Learn How Science Can Help Reduce the Risk of Loss of Life and Property When Natural Hazards Occur

 

Reston, VA – More Americans are at risk from being severely impacted by natural hazards now than any other time in our nation’s history.

Date published: February 10, 2005

2004 Deadliest in Nearly 500 Years for Earthquakes

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 2004 was the deadliest year for earthquakes since the Renaissance Age, making it the second most fatal in recorded history, with more than 275,950 deaths reported from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26. 

Date published: October 5, 1999

"The Next Big Earthquake" — Still Helpful and Still Available; From USGS

With a press run of more than three million copies, "The Next Big Earthquake In The Bay Area May Come Sooner Than You Think-- Are You Prepared?" is the most widely distributed publication ever prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey. Nine years after it’s publication, it is still available from the USGS, and still helpful as a preparedness guide for Bay Area residents.

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January 25, 2018

PubTalk 1/2018 — ShakeAlert: Path to West Coast EQ Early Warning

Title: ShakeAlert: The Path to West Coast Earthquake Early Warning ... how a few seconds can save lives and property

  • The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system will begin limited operations this year.
  • Alerts could save lives and properties but several challenges remain.
  • With millions at risk, why isn't full public alerting happening yet?
...
House damage in central Oklahoma from a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 2011
February 23, 2017

Damage in central Oklahoma from a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 2011

House damage in central Oklahoma from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011. Research conducted by USGS geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran and her university-based colleagues suggests that this earthquake was induced by injection into deep disposal wells in the Wilzetta North field. Credit: Brian Sherrod, USGS

ShakeOut GIF
October 11, 2016

ShakeOut GIF

ShakeOut GIF showing what to do in an earthquake if you are near a sturdy desk or table.

ShakeOut GIF
October 11, 2016

ShakeOut GIF

ShakeOut GIF showing step five "minimize financial hardship" of the seven steps to earthquake safety.

Student participates in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill. Photo courtesy of The Great ShakeOut
April 13, 2016

Great ShakeOut

Image: Collapsed Home
May 26, 2008

Collapsed Home

Man standing in front of collapsed home in Pengzhou.

Image: Collapsed Homes
May 24, 2008

Collapsed Homes

Man standing in front of collapsed homes in residential area in Dujiangyan.

Image: Bicycles Crushed by Brick
October 17, 1989

Bicycles Crushed by Brick

Bicycles crushed by falling unreinforced brick facade, Pacific Garden Mall.

Image: Failure of Unreinforced Brick
October 17, 1989

Failure of Unreinforced Brick

Failure of unreinforced brick masonry caused collapse of the upper floor in downtown Los Gatos.

Earthquake damage with family in foreground

Earthquake damage with family in foreground

Composite photo of 1906 damaged buildings and modern family in foreground

Attribution: Earthquake Hazards
American Red Cross First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

Example of a home emergency first aid kit