Getting Prepared For an Earthquake
Once an earthquake hits, it is too late to protect your home and family. But there are simple ways to prevent future earthquake damage if you take the right steps to prepare before the next earthquake hits. Visit FEMA’s guide to Earthquake Safety at Home and access helpful guides on how to strengthen your home and secure the contents.
Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt – Use this easy to follow visual guide by FEMA to easily identify earthquake hazard risks throughout your home.
More information to get ready.
What to do during an Earthquake
Federal, State, and local emergency management experts and other official preparedness organizations all agree that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills (www.shakeout.org) are opportunities to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes.
You cannot tell from the initial shaking if an earthquake will suddenly become intense…so always Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!
- DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!);
- COVER your head and neck with your arms and seek shelter by getting under a sturdy desk or table if nearby; and
- HOLD ON to your shelter and be ready to move with it until the shaking stops.
If you are unable to Drop, Cover, and Hold On: If you have difficulty getting safely to the floor on your own, get as low as possible, protect your head and neck, and move away from windows or other items that can fall on you.
In a wheelchair: Lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.
In bed: If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
In a high-rise: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.
In a stadium or theater: Stay at your seat or drop to the floor between rows and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.
In a store: When shaking starts, Drop Cover and Hold On. A shopping cart or getting inside clothing racks can provide some protection. If you must move to get away from heavy items on high shelves, drop to the ground first and crawl only the shortest distance necessary. Whenever you enter any retail store, take a moment to look around: What is above and around you that could move or fall during an earthquake? Then use your best judgment to stay safe.
Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.
Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
Near the shore: Drop, Cover, and Hold On until the shaking stops. If severe shaking lasts twenty seconds or more, immediately evacuate to high ground as a Tsunami might have been generated by the earthquake. Move inland two miles or to land that is at least 100 feet above sea level immediately. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.
Below a dam: Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you live downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan.
MYTH – Head for the Doorway:
An enduring earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the doorframe as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. We now understand that doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house, and do not provide protection from falling or flying objects. You are safer under a table.
DO NOT get in a doorway! An early earthquake photo is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. In modern houses and buildings, doorways are no safer, and they do not protect you from flying or falling objects. Get under a table instead!
DO NOT run outside! Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris or glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as glass, bricks, or other building components may be falling. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.
DO NOT believe the so-called “triangle of life”! In recent years, an e-mail has circulated which has recommends potentially life threatening actions , and the source has been discredited by leading experts.
What to do after an Earthquake
The disaster may continue after. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami if near the ocean. Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on. They can continue to occur frequently ‐ minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake
- When the shaking stops, look around. If there is a clear path to safety, leave the building and go to an open space away from damaged areas. If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. If you have a cell phone with you, use it to call or text for help.
- Be prepared to “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” in the likely event of aftershocks.
- Whenever it becomes safe to do so, you can report your insurance your agent.
- After submission of the claim report, you should continue to protect your family and your property from further damage and prepare for the adjuster’s inspection by:
- Taking photos of the damaged property
- Saving the damaged property so it is available for inspection
- Keeping accurate records of all expenses such as temporary repairs and additional living expenses
- Preparing an itemized list of all damaged property including the manufacturer, brand name, age, place of purchase and purchase price