Earthquake Safety Awareness

Earthquake Safety Awareness

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. The Shake Out is our opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes.


Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognized “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protocol to protect lives during earthquakes:

DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),

Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and

HOLD ON to 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 our 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 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.

If there isnt a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.

Know Your Earthquake Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an earthquake hazard:

An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake.

A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earths crust, accompanied and followed by a series of vibrations.

The place on the earths surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake rupture began. Once fault slippage begins, it expands along the fault during the earthquake and can extend hundreds of miles before stopping.

The fracture across which displacement has occurred during an earthquake. The slippage may range from less than an inch to more than 10 yards in a severe earthquake.

The amount of energy released during an earthquake, which is computed from the amplitude of the seismic waves. A magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale indicates an extremely strong earthquake. Each whole number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. Therefore, an earthquake measuring 6.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 5.0.

Seismic Waves
Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at speeds of several miles per second. Although fault slippage directly under a structure can cause considerable damage, the vibrations of seismic waves cause most of the destruction during earthquakes.

These are general guidelines for most situations. Depending on where you are (in bed, driving, in a theater, etc.), you might take other actions, as described in Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions (PDF | RTF).

The main point is to not try to move but to immediately protect yourself as best as possible where you are. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; you therefore will most likely be knocked to the ground where you happen to be. You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be start of the big one. You should Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!

In addition, studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. Drop, Cover, and Hold On offers the best overall level of protection in most situations.

As with anything, practice makes perfect. To be ready to protect yourself immediately when the ground begins to shake, practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On as children do in school at least once each year.

What NOT to do:

DO NOT get in a doorway!. 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. Read our special report to learn more.

Earthquake Safety Tips: How to Survive an Earthquake

A little knowledge and a few precautionary measures can enormously increase your chances of surviving an earthquake – or any other type of hazard. The keys are education and preparing in advance. The earthquake safety tips below will not make you an expert. However, they could make a life-saving difference if you find yourself in an earthquake situation. Invest in your personal safety by studying below.

Before the Earthquake:

  • Learn how to survive during the ground motion. This is described in the “During the Earthquake” section below. The earthquake safety tips there will prepare you for the fast action needed – most earthquakes are over in seconds so knowing what to do instinctively is very important.
  • Teach all members of your family about earthquake safety. This includes: 1) the actions you should take when an earthquake occurs, 2) the safe places in a room such as under a strong desk, along interior walls, and 3) places to avoid such as near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture and fireplaces.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. These include: battery operated radio (and extra batteries), flashlights (and extra batteries), first aid kit, bottled water, two weeks food and medical supplies, blankets, cooking fuel, tools needed to turn off your gas, water and electric utilities.
  • Arrange your home for safety: Store heavy objects on lower shelves and store breakable objects in cabinets with latched doors. Don’t hang heavy mirrors or pictures above where people frequently sit or sleep.
  • Anchor heavy appliances and furniture such as water heaters, refrigerators and bookcases.
  • Store flammable liquids away from potential ignition sources such as water heaters, stoves and furnaces.
  • Get Educated. Learn what to do during an earthquake (see below). Then you will be ready for the fast action needed. Make sure that all members of your family have this important education.
  • Learn where the main turn-offs are for your water, gas and electricity. Know how to turn them off and the location of any needed tools.

During the Earthquake:

  • If you are indoors, stay there. Quickly move to a safe location in the room such as under a strong desk, a strong table, or along an interior wall. The goal is to protect you from falling objects and be located near the structural strong points of the room. Avoid taking cover near windows, large mirrors, hanging objects, heavy furniture, heavy appliances or fireplaces.
  • If you are cooking, turn off the stove and take cover.
  • If you are outdoors, move to an open area where falling objects are unlikely to strike you. Move away from buildings, power lines and trees.
  • If you are driving, slow down smoothly and stop on the side of the road. Avoid stopping on or under bridges and overpasses, or under power lines, trees and large signs. Stay in your car.
  • Move away from large entertainment centers, book shelves or other large items that could topple over on top of you.
  • If you are in a car slow down and drive to a clear place from trees, bridges, or large structures. Stay in your car until the shaking stops.

After the Earthquake:

  • Check for injuries; attend to injuries if needed, help ensure the safety of people around you.
  • Check for damage. If your building is badly damaged you should leave it until it has been inspected by a safety professional.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks they can be almost as powerful as the initial earthquake and can cause damage to already weaken structures.
  • If you smell or hear a gas leak, get everyone outside and open windows and doors. If you can do it safely, turn off the gas at the meter. Report the leak to the Gas Company and fire department. Do not use any open flames or electrical appliances because a tiny spark could ignite the gas.
  • Do not attempt to use an elevator.
  • If the power is out, unplug major appliances to prevent possible damage when the power is turned back on. If you see sparks, frayed wires, or smell hot insulation turn off electricity at the main fuse box or breaker. If you will have to step in water to turn off the electricity you should call a professional to turn it off for you.
  • Beware of falling debris as you exit and for open or exposed electrical power lines.
  • If in a car proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris

  • Do not light a match. There may be gas lines broken and cause a fire or explosion to happen.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Create a Disaster-Preparedness Plan.

Will everyone in your household know how to react during and after strong earthquake shaking? To be ready for the quakes , it is important that your family have a disaster-preparedness plan. Hold occasional earthquake “drills” to practice your plan. Share your disaster plan with your neighbors and discuss key points with babysitters, house sitters, and house guests. Your plan should include most of the following

Plan NOW to be safe during an earthquake: In a strong earthquake, individual survival skills will be crucial.

  • Practice drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables.
  • Learn how to protect yourself no matter where you are when an earthquake strikes.

Plan NOW to respond after an earthquake: Doing the following will enable you to help your family and others after a strong quake.

  • Keep shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed.
  • Teach everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and (or) to knock 3 times repeatedly if trapped. Rescuers searching collapsed buildings will be listening for sounds.
  • Identify the needs of household members and neighbors with special requirements or situations, such as use of a wheelchair, walking aids, special diets, or medication.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training course. Learn who in your neighborhood is trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Know the locations of utility shutoffs and keep needed tools nearby. Know how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity to your home. Only turn off the gas if you smell or hear leaking gas.
  • Get training from your local fire department in how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
  • Install smoke alarms and test them monthly. Change the battery once a year, or sooner if the alarm emits a chirping sound (low-battery signal).

Plan NOW to communicate and recover after an earthquake: Dont wait until the next earthquake to do the following.

  • Locate a safe place outside of your home for your family to meet after the shaking stops.
  • Establish an out-of-area contact person who can be called by everyone in the household to relay information.
  • Provide all family members with a list of important contact phone numbers.
  • Determine where you might live if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake or other disaster (ask friends or relatives).
  • Learn about the earthquake plan developed by your children’s school or day care, and keep your children’s school emergency release cards current.
  • Keep copies of insurance policies, financial records, and other essential documents in a secure location, such as with your household disaster kit. Include a household inventory (a list and photos or video of your belongings).

Can you live without the services you rely on?

· Water may be in short supply.

· Natural gas and electric power may be out for days or weeks.

· Garbage and sewage services may be interrupted.

· Telephone, Internet, cell phone, and wireless communications may be overloaded or unavailable.

· Mail service may be disrupted or delayed.

· Gasoline may be in short supply, and rationing may be necessary.

· Bank operations may be disrupted, limiting access to cash, ATMs, or online banking.

· Grocery, drug, and other retail stores may be closed or unable to restock shelves.


Create Disaster Kits: Personal Disaster Kits

Everyone in your family should have their own personal disaster kits. These kits are collections of supplies they may need when a quake strikes. Personalize these kits and keep them where they can easily be reachedat home, in the car, at work or school. A backpack or other small bag is best for these kits so that they can be easily carried in an evacuation. Include the following items:

  • Medications, a list of prescriptions, copies of medical insurance cards, doctors names and contact information.
  • Medical consent forms for dependents.
  • First aid kit and handbook.
  • Spare eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, and sturdy shoes
  • Bottled water.
  • Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location).
  • Emergency cash.
  • Personal identification
  • List of emergency contact phone numbers.
  • Snack foods high in calories.
  • Emergency lightinglight sticks and (or) a working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs (hand-powered flashlights are also available).
  • Comfort items, such as games, crayons, writing materials, and teddy bears.

Household Disaster Kit Electrical, water, transportation, and other vital systems can be disrupted for several days after a large earthquake. Emergency response agencies and hospitals will likely be overwhelmed and unable to provide you with immediate assistance. To help your family cope after a strong earthquake, store a household disaster kit in an easily accessible location, preferably outdoors (not in your garage). This kit, which complements your personal disaster kits, should be in a large watertight container that can be easily moved and should hold at least a 3- to 5-day supply of the following items:

  • Drinking water (minimum one gallon per person per day). Dont forget water for your pets as well.
  • First aid supplies, medications, and essential hygiene items, such as soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper.
  • Emergency lightinglight sticks and (or) a working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs (hand-powered flashlights are also available).
  • A hand-cranked or battery-operated radio (and spare batteries).
  • Canned and packaged foods and cooking utensils, including a manual can opener.
  • Items to protect you from the elements, such as warm clothing, sturdy shoes, extra socks, blankets, and perhaps even a tent.
  • Heavy-duty plastic bags for waste and to serve other uses, such as tarps and rain ponchos.
  • Work gloves and protective goggles.
  • Pet food and pet restraints.
  • Copies of vital documents, such as insurance policies and personal identification.

NOTE: Replace perishable items like water, food, medications, and batteries on a yearly basis.

An Earthquake can strike anytime without notice. Always better to be prepared.

Safety First, Safety Always!

Information and maps provided by the USGS, FEMA, Earthquake Country Alliances and .

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau