Fast reflexes and split-second timing help in any situation but do not take the place of planning in the event of an earthquake. If your house starts to shake, rattle and roll without warning, remain calm and follow these safety tips.
- As you don’t know where you will be when an earthquake hits, it helps to create a safe spot in every room where you will be able to shelter, preferably under a heavy piece of furniture like a table or desk, and to follow the drop, cover and hold on adage.
- If you cannot shelter yourself under a heavy piece of furniture or other type of shelter when the earthquake hits, drop down to the floor, flush against an interior wall, and protect your neck and head with your arms and remain in a crouched position.
- Find something affixed and solid to hold onto and be prepared to have your body move as it moves.
- Do not seek shelter under hanging objects such as mirrors or near unanchored appliances or tall pieces of furniture.
- Avoid glass windows and doors as well as cabinets that are not latched.
- Also avoid the exterior walls of your home and stay put until the earthquake and subsequent tremors have ceased completely.
- Do not assume that a doorway will be sturdy enough to provide extra shelter. Determine if your doorways are load-bearing and strong enough to protect you in advance of an earthquake occurring.
- If you have a baby in another room, it is natural to want to race to them, but this could be disastrous. Protect your baby ahead of time by ensuring that their crib, playpen or bassinet is protected with padding and soft siding. Purchase baby furniture that is sturdy and solid enough to remain upright and make sure cabinets are latched and no objects in the nursery or other areas can go flying. Never place a crib or playpen near a window.
- If you have a child in another room, call out assurances to them and instruct them to remain in a drop, cover and hold on position. Children as young as two are able to learn these steps in advance.
- If you are in bed when an earthquake hits, stay there and use your pillow to protect your head and neck, provided there is nothing nearby that could fall on you or shatter, like a window.
- Have your family practice drop, cover and hold on drills in each room.
- If you are in a restaurant, store or other public place when an earthquake strikes, panic may ensue. To avoid being trampled, do not race for the exit but rather, quickly determine a safe location to drop, cover and hold on.
- Avoid shelving that holds objects that might go flying, as well as windows and glass doors.
- If you are at the theater or a sporting event, stay seated, but shrink down and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Never get on an elevator.
- Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
- Ready.gov: Earthquakes
- Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
To learn more, visit CBS San Francisco’s Earthquake Resource Center