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Earthquake Safety

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the shifting of underground rock. Deaths and injuries occur when people fall trying to walk or run during shaking or when they are hit by falling debris. Smaller earthquakes, called aftershocks, always follow the mainshock. Earthquakes can cause tsunamis, landslides, fires, and damage to utilities. Earthquakes can happen anywhere, and there is no way to predict them. But we can take action to prepare. Prepare now to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your home.

How to Teach Your Child About Earthquakes

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Prepare with Pedro: Earthquake

You’ll find downloadable digital resources, videos on earthquakes and more at

What Should You Do Before an Earthquake?

Understand Your Risk

Earthquakes can happen anywhere but are more common in certain areas. Find out if you live in an area prone to earthquakes.

Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On

During an earthquake, you should Drop, Cover, and Hold On to protect yourself from falling debris. Practice with your entire household so everyone knows what to do. Here is how to practice:

DROP where you are onto your hands and knees.

  • This position protects you from being knocked down and allows you to crawl to a protected space.

COVER your head and neck with your arms.

  • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for protection.
  • If you cannot find a protected space, crawl to an interior wall (away from windows).
  • Stay on your knees and bend over to protect yourself from injury.

HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

  • If you are under a table or desk, hold onto it as things will be moving. Use an arm to protect your head and neck.
  • If you are not under a protected space: Protect your head and neck with both arms.

To Prevent Injuries, Secure Your Space

  • Identify things that might fall during shaking. Imagine if the room were picked up, shaken up and down, and side to side. Which items could fall and injure you? Consider things such as televisions, shelves, mirrors, pictures, water heaters, refrigerators, and bookcases.
  • Secure these items so they don’t injure you during an earthquake. Straps, hooks, latches, and other safety devices are widely available.
  • If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, get your building evaluated and consider structural improvements.
  • Earthquakes are generally not covered by household or renters’ insurance. Earthquake insurance policies may be available. Check with insurance providers.

Plan to Stay Connected

  • Have a backup battery or a way to charge your cell phone.
  • Have a battery-powered radio so that you can stay informed.
  • Create a personal support team of people you may assist and who can assist you.
  • There is no way to predict an earthquake, but earthquake early-warning systems are in development. See if they are available in your area.

Learn Emergency Skills

  • Learn First Aid and CPR to help others. People may be injured, and emergency services may not be available.
  • Learn how to turn off the utilities in your home.
  • Get a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it safely.
  • Be ready to live without power, gas, and water.

Gather Emergency Supplies

  • Gather food, water, and medicine.  Stores and pharmacies might be closed. Organize supplies into a Go-Kit, Stay-at-Home-Kit, and a Bed-Kit:
    • Go-Kit: at least 3 days of supplies that you can carry with you. Include batteries and chargers for your devices (cell phone, CPAP, wheelchair, etc.)
    • Stay-at-Home Kit: at least 2 weeks of supplies. 
    • Bed-Kit: a bag of supplies attached to your bed. Include items you will need if an earthquake happens while you are sleeping. Store sturdy shoes to protect your feet from glass, one of the most common earthquake injuries. Also include a flashlight, glasses, a dust mask, and a whistle.
  • Have a 1-month supply of medication in a child-proof container, and other needed medical supplies or equipment. 
  • Keep personal, financial, and medical records safe and easy to access (hard copies or securely backed up). Consider keeping a list of your medications and dosages on a small card to carry with you.