Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Advanced planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or death. Most earthquake-related casualties result not from ground movement but from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects.
Fix any hazards in your home:
- Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items, weed killers, pesticides and flammable products in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Hang heavy items away from where people sit or sleep.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections to eliminate fire risks.
- Strap the water heater to the wall and bolt it to the floor.
- Repair deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice for signs of structural defects.
- Identify safe places indoors and outdoors for everyone in your home:
- Under sturdy furniture (heavy desk or table).
- Against an inside wall.
- Away from glass, mirrors and furniture that could fall over.
- In the open, away from buildings, trees, utility lines and overpasses.
- Drop to the ground; take cover under sturdy furniture; and hold on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall.
- If in bed, hold on and protect your head with a pillow.
- If under a heavy light fixture, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it’s nearby and is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops.
- Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems/fire alarms may turn on.
- If outdoors, move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires. Stay there until the shaking stops.
- If in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the shaking has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.
- DO NOT use elevators.
- If trapped under debris, do not light a match, move about or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a piece of cloth. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if available. Shout only as a last resort.
- Expect aftershocks, which are secondary shockwaves usually less violent than the main quake. Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for emergency information.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Open cabinets cautiously as objects may fall off shelves.
- Stay away from damaged areas, and return home only when authorities say it is safe. Immediately clean up spilled medicines, bleaches or flammable liquids. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes.
- Inspect chimneys for damage.
- Inspect utilities. Don’t use damaged utilities; call for service immediately.
Updated on: May 16, 2019