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Earthquake Preparedness

Earthquakes can happen anywhere and without warning. They can cause the world to crumble and fall around you, the best time to prepare for a disaster before it happens.


If an earthquake happens, protect yourself right away. Drop, Cover and Hold On!


  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over and stop. Set your parking brake.
  • If you are in bed, turn face down and cover your head and neck with a pillow.
  • If you are outdoors, stay outdoors away from buildings.
  • Do not get in a doorway.
  • Do not run outside.
  • Visit for tips and videos on what to do in a variety of other situations.



Drop: Drop where you are, onto your hands and knees.

Cover: Cover your head and neck with your arms. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter. If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows). Crawl only if you can reach better cover without going through an area with more debris. Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs,

Hold On. If you are under a table or desk, hold onto with one hand and be ready to move with it if it moves. If you can’t find a table or desk: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands. If seated and unable to drop to the floor: bend forward, cover your head with your arms, and hold on to your neck with both hands.

If using a wheelchair or a walker with a seat:

Lock: Make sure your wheels are locked. Remain seated until the shaking stops.

Cover: Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.

Hold on: maintain your position with head and neck covered until shaking stops.

Prepare Before an Earthquake

The best time to prepare for any disaster is before it happens.


Practice Drop, Cover, then Hold On with family and coworkers. Drop to your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Crawl under a sturdy table or desk if nearby. Hold on to any sturdy furniture until the shaking stops. If a table or desk is not close, crawl next to an interior wall.

Secure items, such as bookcases, refrigerators, televisions and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves.

Create a family emergency communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated.

Make a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least three days, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Consider each person’s specific needs, including medication. Have extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment. Do not forget the needs of pets and service animals.

Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover earthquake damage.

Consider making improvements to your building to fix structural issues that could cause your building to collapse during an earthquake.


Make a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least three days

Must-have survival items for an Earthquake:

  1. Plenty of canned goods

Beans are an especially good emergency food option as they are rich in protein. Also stock up on tomatoes, peas, corn and chicken soup for nutrients. Make sure to check the expiration dates on your food and ‘cycle’ it throughout the year, eating the expiring foods and replacing them with new canned goods.

Non-electric can opener

  1. Water

This is key as water supplies could be toxic or there could be a water main break. You need water to survive. Similarly, check the expiration dates on the bottles and ‘cycle’ your water throughout the year.

  1. Portable radio (or scanner) with extra batteries

You will need to obtain up-to-the-minute news after a quake and if the phone lines are down, that will mean your DSL and Wi-Fi could be down (as well as your cable dish).

  1. Flashlight with extra batteries

Maglites are my personal favorites as they’re super-durable and dependable. I usually keep a Maglite by my bed and another less substantial flashlight in the kitchen drawer.

  1. Fire extinguisher

You should probably have this in your kitchen anyway. It’s not a bad idea to keep one in your car as well.

  1. First Aid book and kits

Most hardware stores carry Fist Aid/earthquake kits. Make sure to get one for the house (or two if you have a family) and one for each car.

  1. Adjustable wrench

You may need to turn off your gas or water after an earthquake hits.

  1. Matches (and fire wood)

Matches are a must. And, if it’s winter, remember your heating and electricity could be off due to the quake. Determine whether there is a gas leak before lighting a match or fire.

  1. Smoke detector

You should have this already installed in every room in your house. This is especially important in earthquake precautions as a quake could send power lines down and cause a fire, especially in hillside areas with lots of trees.

  1. Portable butane or charcoal stove

Before using these determine if there is a gas leak. Also, only use charcoal outside.

  1. Buckets and bottles of bleach

Under the unfortunate circumstances of a leak or other quake-related plumbing problems, it may be days or even weeks before you can flush a toilet. Buckets, water and bleach can together serve as makeshift temporary toilets.

12.Boots or heavy duty shoes

It’s good to have these types of footwear near your bed or easily accessible. Often glass is the detritus of an earthquake. So, walking around barefoot or in sandals could be dangerous.


Keep Yourself Safe After an Earthquake

If an earthquake has just happened, there can be serious hazards such as damage to the building, leaking gas and water lines, or downed power lines.


Expect aftershocks to follow the main shock of an earthquake.

Check yourself to see if you are hurt and help others if you have training. Learn how to be the Help Until Help Arrives (Link to:

If you are in a damaged building, go outside and quickly move away from the building.

Do not enter damaged buildings.

If you are trapped, protect your mouth, nose and eyes from dust. Send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting so that rescuers can locate you.

If you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, go inland or to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops.

Text messages may be more reliable than phone calls. Save phone calls for emergencies.

Once you are safe, listen to local news reports via battery operated radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions. Be very careful during post-disaster clean-up of buildings and around debris. Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy, thick-soled shoes during clean-up.

Register on the Red Cross “Safe and Well” website so people will know you are okay:


Find out more at

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