Earthquake Preparedness

Earthquakes can happen without warning and can result in injuries and damage to property and roads. Earthquakes can cause fires, tsunamis, or landslides. During a large earthquake, sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second can cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, and every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.

By planning and practicing what to do if an earthquake strikes, you and your loved ones can learn to react correctly and automatically when the shaking begins.

Before an Earthquake: Preparedness Tips

  • Encourage your family, friends and co-workers to practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON or LOCK, COVER and HOLD ON (for wheelchair or walker users) drills at home and at work.
  • Create a family and a workplace emergency plan that includes how they will contact or reconnect with you if separated. Make sure that there is also an out-of-state contact too. Click here for more information on making plans for emergencies and disasters.
  • Remind your family, friends and co-workers to be prepared by knowing their evacuation routes.
  • Make a disaster supply kit that includes enough food, water and medications that could last for at least 10 days. Click here for more information on keeping supplies for emergencies and disasters.
  • Secure televisions, monitors, bookcases or other items that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable items on low shelves.
  • Inspect the inside and outside of your home, dwelling or property for items that could be damaged or fall and cause injury. Secure these identified items with braces, bolts, straps and other materials available at disaster preparedness outlets.
  • Get involved – enroll in First Aid, CPR and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainings in your community. Click here for more information on how to get involved
  • If you own a home, consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage.
  • If you are a property owner, consider a retrofit of your building to correct structural issues that make it vulnerable to collapse during an earthquake.

Preparing an earthquake emergency kit:

Staying Safe DURING an Earthquake 

  • If you are in a car, 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. 
  • If you are inside, stay and do not run outside and avoid doorways.

 Protecting Yourself During an Earthquake

Drop Cover Hold on

  • Wherever you are, drop down to your hands and knees and hold onto something sturdy. If you’re using a wheelchair or walker with a seat, make sure your wheels are locked and remain seated until the shaking stops.


  • 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 or bent over to protect vital organs.


  • If you are under a table or desk, hold on with one hand and be ready to move with it if it moves. 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.

Staying Safe: After an Earthquake

  • Expect aftershocks to follow a large earthquake.
  • Check yourself for injury and aid others (if you have training to do so).
  • If you’re in a damaged building, when instructed and safe to do so, go outside and move away from the building to the designated safe zones or areas.
  • Don’t enter damaged buildings.
  • Save phone calls for emergencies.
  • If you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, go inland or to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops.
  • Once safe, monitor local news reports via radio, television, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions.
  • Use extreme caution during post-disaster clean-up of buildings and around debris. Don’t 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.