Before, During, and After an Earthquake

Before the Quake | During the Quake | After the Quake

Before the Quake

Develop a family earthquake plan. Prepare yourself, your family and your home by completing the activities on this checklist. Decide how and where your family will reunite if separate. Choose an out-of-state friend or relative that separated family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and condition. Conduct practice drills. Physically place yourself in safe locations. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.

Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) from your local Red Cross chapter or other community organization.

Know the safe spots in each room: under sturdy tables, desks, or against inside walls.

Know the danger spots: windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall, unsecured furniture, hanging plants.

Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged. Consider automatic gas shut off valves.

Check chimneys, roofs, walls foundations for stability. Make sure your house is bolted to its foundation. Secure water heater and appliances that could move enough to rupture utility lines. Keep breakables and heavy objects on bottom shelves. Secure hanging plants and heavy picture frames or mirrors (especially over beds). Put latches on cabinet doors to keep them closed during shaking.

Keep flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints, pest sprays or cleaning products in cabinets or secure on lower shelves.

Maintain emergency food, water and other supplies, including a flashlight, a portable battery-operated radio, extra batteries, medicines, first aid kit and clothing.

During the Quake

Remain calm! Think through any action before you proceed.

Protect your head and neck with your arms. If possible, grab a book, a pillow or any other item to shield yourself from falling glass and debris.

If you are indoors, you must immediately LOOK, DUCK, COVER, HOLD. Duck under a sturdy furniture or into a strong doorway. If your are in a rural area and near and exit, move outside.

Do not turn on lights. Do not strike a match because it could be explosive while natural gas is leaking.

If you are outdoors and the ground starts shaking from a large earthquake, move to an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power poles. Move away from beaches, waterfronts and saturated soggy ground. In a narrow valley, move to the center of narrow valleys and look up slope for tumbling rocks. Keep your eyes open for dangerous things and watch the effects caused by the earthquake.

Because of their relatively safe condition, people outside often see more of the effects of earthquakes. If it is a very strong earthquake, watch for surface waves, listen for sounds, at night, look for flashing lights. Grab a video or still-shot camera and take pictures.

If you are in the car, move to the side of the road and stop the car. Do not stop near buildings, power lines and on or under overpasses or bridges. Stay in your car until the shaking stops. Keep your safety belt on until the shaking stops.

After the Quake

Check for injuries. Apply first aid. Do not move seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger. Do not use the telephone immediately unless there is a serious injury or fire.

Hunt for Hazards:

Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn utility off at the source.

Check building for cracks and damage, including roof, chimneys and foundation.

Check food and water supplies. Emergency water may be obtained from water heaters, melted ice cubes, toilet tanks and canned vegetables.

Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports. Cooperate fully with public safety officials.

Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.

Be prepared for aftershocks.

Stay calm and lend a hand to others.

If you evacuate, post a message inside your home telling family members where you can be found.

Developed by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services

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