Stay safe by learning what to do during an earthquake, whether you're indoors, outdoors, or on the road.
When an earthquake or other disaster occurs, many people hesitate, trying to remember what they are supposed to do. Responding quickly and automatically may help protect you from injury. If you are indoors during an earthquake, the most important thing you can do is ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’!
Drop under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to one leg of the table or desk. Protect your eyes by keeping your head down. Don’t be surprised if you move along with your cover, and don’t let go! Practice these actions so that they become an automatic response.
If you have to move to find cover when the earthquake begins, move only a few steps to the nearest safe place. It is very dangerous to leave a building during an earthquake because objects can fall on you. Many fatalities occur when people run outside of buildings during the quake, only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls, fire escapes, and balconies. In U.S. buildings, you are safer to stay where you are.
Stay away from windows. Windows can shatter with such force that you might get hurt even if you are several feet away.
If you are in bed, hold on to the bedframe 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 may cause injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake. Earthquakes frequently cause fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems to go off even if there is no fire. Check for and extinguish small fires, and use the stairs to evacuate.
Practice ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold- on’ at least twice a year. Frequent practice will help reinforce safe behavior.
Being outdoors during an earthquake presents a unique set of problems. Trees, power lines, poles, street signs, debris from damaged buildings, and other overhead items may fall during earthquakes.
If you're outside in an earthquake, stay outside. Find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Crouch down and cover your head until the shaking stops.
If you are in a coastal area, move to higher ground when the shaking stops. Tsunamis are often created by earthquakes.
If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, watch for falling rocks and other debris that could be loosened by the earthquake. Landslides are common after earthquakes.
ON THE ROAD
If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking has ended. Parking your car will help reduce your risk of being overturned, and a hard-topped vehicle will help protect you from flying or falling objects.
Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake. Do not drive through flooded roads or bridges—the road beneath the water might be severely damaged or even washed away.