Enterprise Risk Management

Earthquake Preparedness 

Are You Ready? 

USGS updated their U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, which reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result. All states have some potential for earthquakes, 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years. 


As one of the states at the highest risk, we must make the necessary preparations now to make sure we can safegard ourselves and recover from the next earthquake. The information below outlines what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.

Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year and occur without warning, although they usually last less than one minute. Aftershocks following the initial earthquake may occur for hours, days, or even months. Earthquakes cannot be predicted - although scientists are working on it!

Before an Earthquake

Prepare yourself and your family to:

React Safely

Learn what to do during an earthquake. Hold periodic family drills to practice what you have learned. Through practicem you can condition yourselves to react spontaneously and safely when the first jolt or shaking is felt.

Take Cover

In each room of your home, identify the safest places to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" during an earthquake. Practice going to these safe spots during family drills to ensure that everyone learns where they are.

Survive on Your Own

Assemble and maintain a household emergency supply kit, and be sure that all family members know where it is stored. The kit should consist of one or two portable containers (e.g. plastic tubs, backpacks, diffel bags) holding the supplies that your family would need to survive without outside assistance for at least 3 days following an earthquake or other disaster. Make additional, smaller kits to keep in your car(s) and at your place(s) of work. 

Stay in Contact

List addresses, telephone numbers, and evacuation sites for all places frequented by family members (e.g. home, workplaces, schools). Include the phone number of an out of state contact. Ensure that family members carry a copy of this list, and include copies in your emergency supply kits.

Care for People, Pets, and Property

Get training in first aid, CPR through your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Find out where you could shelter your pets should it become necessary to evacuate your home. Ensure that family members know how and when to call 9-1-1, how to use your home fire extinguisher, and how, where, and when to shut off your home's utilities (water, natural gas, and electricity). Ask your state insurance commissioner about the availability of earthquake insurance in your state. 

During an Earthquake

If you are inside a building:

  • Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn't knock you down. 
  • Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.
    • If you are in danger from falling objects, and you can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table. 
    • If no sturdy shelter is nearby, crawl away from windors, next to an interior wall. Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures or furniture.
  • Hold on to any strurdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops. 
  • Stay where you are until the shaking stops. 

If getting safely to the floor to take cover won't be possible:

  • If getting safely to the floor will be difficult, actions before an earthquake to secure or remove items that can fall or become projectiles should be a priority to create spaces.
  • Identify objects that can fall on you and stay away from windows. The Earthquake Country Alliance advises getting as low as possible to the floor. Peopl who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices should lock their wheels, bend over, and remain seated until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow or book, or whatever is available. 

If you are in bed when you feel the shaking:

  • Stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow. At night, hazards and debris are difficult to see and avoid; attempts to move in the dark result in more injuries than remaining in bed.

If you are outside when you feel the shaking:

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. Once in the open, "Drop, Cover, and Hold On." Stay there until the shaking stops. 

If you are in a moving vehicle when you feel the shaking:

  • It is difficult to control a vehicle during the shaking, If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly and safely as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires. Proceed with caution once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that the earthquake may have damaged. 

After an Earthquake

  • When the shaking stops, look around. If the building is damaged and there is a clear path to safety, leave the building and go to an open space way from damaged areas.
  • If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. 
  • If you have a cell phone with you, use it to call or text for help.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.
  • Once safe, monitor local news reports via battery operated radio, TV, social media, and cell phone text alerts for emergency information and instructions.
  • Check for injuries and provide assistance fi you have training. Assist with rescues if you can do so safely.
  • If you are near the coast, learn about tsunamis in your area. If you are in an area that may have tsunamis, when the shaking stops, walk inland and to higher ground immediately. Monitor official reports for more information on the area's tsunami evacuation plans. 
  • Use extreme caution during post-disaster clean-up of buildings areound debris. Do not attempt to remove heavy debris by yourself. Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdym thick-soled shows during clean-up.
  • Be prepared to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" in the likely event of aftershocks. 

Great Shakeout: October 19, 2017

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:19 a.m during the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills. 

Links to Other Resources:

San Andreas - Dwayne The Rock Johnson PSA (Video)

When the Earth Shakes (Video)

How to Prepare for an Earthquake (PDF)

Earthquake Playbook (PDF)

U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program (link)

American Red Cross (link)

Earthquake Country Alliance (link)

National Science Foundation (link)

National Institute of Standards and Technology (link)

Earthquake Preparedness: What Every Childcare Provider Should Know (link)