Before an Earthquake
- Set up your home, apartment or workplace so that you can quickly get under a sturdy desk, table, or other safe place for protection.
- Make sure every member of your family knows the location of "safe" spots in your home during a quake, as well as different escape routes from those areas.
- Keep your hallway clear. It is usually one of the safest places to be during an earthquake.
- Decide where and when to reunite your family should you be apart when an earthquake happens.
- Choose an out of state friend or relative that separated family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and conditions.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers. For quick reference, the front pages of the telephone directories give excellent guidelines for a variety of emergency situations.
- Locate the shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity. Learn how to shut off the valves before a quake. If you have any questions on how to do this, contact your area utility service providers.
- Call your local Red Cross chapter and Office of Emergency Services to find out about their plans for emergency meeting places and temporary medical centers in case of such a disaster.
- Establish all possible ways to exit your house. Keep those areas clear.
During an Earthquake
- Stay calm.
- Stay where you are. If indoors, stay indoors; if outdoors, stay outdoors. Most injuries occur as people are entering or leaving a building.
- Stay away from kitchens and garages, which tend to be the most dangerous places because of the many items kept there.
- Stay away from heavy furniture, appliances, large glass panes, shelves holding objects, and large decorative masonry, brick or plaster, such as fireplaces.
- If you are indoors, move away from windows and get under a table, desk, or bench. As it moves, hold on and move with it.
- If you are outdoors, stay clear of buildings and utility wires. Stay in the open until the shaking stops.
- DO NOT run through or near buildings. The greatest danger from falling debris is just outside doorways and close to outer walls.
- DO NOT use candles, matches, or other open flames either during or after an earthquake.
- If you are in a moving vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits, but stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, underpasses, or utility wires.
After an Earthquake
- Check for injuries. DO NOT attempt to move injured persons unless they are in danger of further injury.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas, open windows and shut off main gas valve. Leave the building and report gas leakage to local authorities. NOTE: Do not turn off gas unless there has been a major quake or there is an obvious gas leak; otherwise, it may take days to get someone out to turn it back on.
- Check utility lines around, and connecting to, your home for damage. If electrical wiring is shorting out, shut off the current at the main box.
- If water pipes are damaged, shut off the supply at the main valve. Emergency water may be obtained from sources such as hot water tanks, toilet tanks (not bowls), and melted ice cubes. If water pipes are damaged, DO NOT drink contaminated water.
- Be prepared for additional earthquakes and/or aftershocks.
- Stay out of severely damaged buildings; aftershocks can shake them down.
- Stay off the telephone. Only use the phone to report an emergency. Tune to radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
Visit the following web sites for up-to-date earthquake information.
Recent Earthquake Information
- Current Earthquakes in California
- Caltech Earthquake Information (Up-to-date information - So. California)
- ShakeMaps - Earthquake Ground Shaking Maps
- Did you feel it? - Community Internet Intensity Maps
General Earthquake Information
- Frequently asked Questions
- National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC)
- Office of Earthquake Programs (Caltech Earthquake Information)
- Information on Hazard Mapping & Earthquake Probabilities
Local Earthquake Information