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 Red Cross.

Learn more:

American Red Cross response to "Triangle of Life" claims

Southern California Earthquake Center

Earthquake Country Alliance

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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

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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.)

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What do I do AFTER an earthquake?


  • to avoid injury from broken glass and debris. Expect aftershocks


  • 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
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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:

  1. 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.
  2. Ask yourself if your
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What can I do to be prepared for an earthquake?

Estimate what EQ of what size are likely to occur (geology)

  1. Given the EQ size we then estimate what the shaking will be (seismology)
  2. 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.

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What emergency supplies do I need for an earthquake?


  1. Fire extinguisher
  2. Adequate supplies of medications that you or family members are taking
  3. Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  4. First-aid kit and handbook
  5. Flashlights with extra bulbs and batteries
  6. Portable radio with extra batteries
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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
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What should I NOT do during an earthquake?

  1. DO NOT turn on the gas again if you turned it off; let the gas company do it
  2. 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
  3. DO NOT
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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: 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. 

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House damage in central Oklahoma from a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 2011
February 23, 2017

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

ShakeOut Don't Freak Out
October 11, 2016

ShakeOut Don't Freak Out

ShakeOut GIF
October 11, 2016

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

Image: Students Conduct Earthquake Preparedness Drill
October 18, 2012

Students participate in the Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, Virginia. They are conducting the "drop, cover and hold on" safety procedure.

Image: Collapsed Building
May 25, 2008

Partially collapsed residential building in Mianyang.

Image: Between Collapsed Buildings
May 25, 2008

Photographer Ying Ying standing between collapsed buildings in Mianyang.

Image: Collapsed Garage
October 17, 1989

Collapsed garage built on fill.

Image: Apartment in Danger of Collapse
October 17, 1989

Entrance and garage level of a Beach Street apartment complex in danger of collapse, Marina District.

Image: Collapsed Building

This masonry office building in the downtown area of Concepcion, Chile collapsed as a result of the M 8.8 earthquake on Feb. 27, 2010. The construction of this building predates the establishment of strict building codes in Chile, put in place following the devastating earthquake of 1960.