What to do (and NOT to do) in an earthquake!

Drop, Cover, and Hold On


DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.


COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand. 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). Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs.


HOLD ON until shaking stops. Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts. No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.




What NOT to do


DO NOT get in a doorway!

An early earthquake photo is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. 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.


Evacuate or Not?

Many people are injured while trying to move DURING the shaking. It is safer to Drop, Cover, and Hold On first until the shaking is over, then assess damage to the building, if any, to determine whether to evacuate. Remember, there may be additional hazards on the building exterior or outside, so plan carefully your actions to stay put or leave. If you decide it is safer to evacuate, carefully choose rehearsed methods to do so. For daycares, consider evacuation cribs for this purpose




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 your head and neck, and move away from windows or other items that can fall on you.


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 stadium or theater: Stay at your seat or drop to the floor between rows and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.


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


Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.


Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.


Near the shore: Drop, Cover, and Hold On until the shaking stops. If severe shaking lasts twenty seconds or more, immediately evacuate to high ground as a tsunami might have been generated by the earthquake. Move inland two miles or to land that is at least 100 feet above sea level immediately. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.


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.




How to Drop, Cover, and Hold On with an Infant

A parent or caregiver should carefully pick up the baby in their arms, holding the child against their chest, and carry them as they Drop, Cover and Hold On. The adult will provide additional protection above and on either side of the child. This is a bit easier with infants who are not crawling yet, but the adult can still provide protection to an older child either by crouching over and therefore surrounding the child with their body or using an arm to pull the child up next to the adult, holding them in place.




Protecting One or More Children

The best protection for one or more children is to begin by looking around the room(s) to identify what overhead hazards may fall during an earthquake, then either remove the hazard or secure it using recommended practices. Hazards can be everything from potted plants on a windowsill, to tall bookshelves filled with books, a double-hazard due to the fact that not only the furniture may topple but the books may become projectiles during shaking and hurt anyone nearby. By taking a few measures to reduce the hazards, it will be easier to Drop, Cover, and Hold On safely when the shaking starts.


For daycares with multiple infants, the removal of hazards will be very important as babies may need to remain in their cribs as staff may not be able to move them all safely.


If there is no table or desk near you, either carry your children or direct them to drop to the ground and then, if possible and safe to do so, move to an inside corner of the room. You and your children should be in a crawling position to protect your vital organs and be ready to move if needed, and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.


Comfort the children with reassuring words that you understand why they are scared and they are safe with you. Assure them that their parents know where they are and will be there soon.


Disaster Preparedness

CLICK HERE to be prepared for disasters such as Biological Threats, Chemical Threats, Cyber Incident, Earthquakes, Explosions, Home Fires Household Chemical Emergencies, Landslides & Debris Flow, Nuclear Blast, Power Outages, etc.


This In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness will also help you prepare for the worst!


Also, check this Emergency Supply List to be sure you're covered on the essentials.


This is also a great comprehensive guide to steps and supplies.