Earthquake safety tips

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Publishing Organisation:
National Geographic Society
  • English
  • Earthquake
Disaster Management Phase

After, Before, During

Tremblors frequently strike around the world.

These suggestions drafted by Maya Wei-Haas will help you prepare for the next quake that might rattle your town.

The unpredictability of earthquakes is frightening, but with a little preparation, you can be ready if a big one strikes.

if you’re in a region prone to shaking, it’s best to be prepared. Here are some tips to keep you safe.


  • Try to make your home as safe as possible.
  • Investigate whether it complies with local building codes and identify potential weaknesses.
  • The stuff inside your home is just as important as the walls themselves.
    • Take a tour of each room to look for things that could fall or break if the ground starts to wobble.
      • Sometimes this can be solved with a little reorganization, moving large or heavy objects to lower shelves.
      • Other times fixing issues takes a bit more handiwork, such as bolting bookcases to wall studs, installing latches on cupboards, and securing any large appliances like water heaters.
  • Make sure you know how to shut off your utilities.
  • Check out the connections of gas appliances; it’s best if these are flexible rather than rigid so they can bend with the rolling ground.
  • Assemble an earthquake emergency kit that includes food, water, and other supplies for at least 72 hours.
    • When preparing your kit, consider each member of your family and their needs—and don’t forget your pets. The Department of Homeland Security has a detailed guide about putting together a kit for many different contingencies.


  • Protect yourself as quickly as possible.
    • In many situations that means remembering three actions: drop, cover, and hold.
  • Drop:
    • Get down on your hands and knees to protect yourself from being knocked over.
      • That also puts you in an ideal position to crawl for shelter.
  • Cover:
    • Place an arm and hand over your head and neck to shield them from debris.
    • Head for any nearby tables to shelter under until the shaking stops.
      • If a table isn’t in sight, sidle up to one of your home’s interior walls away from tall objects and furniture that might topple.
  • Hold:
    • Stay put until the shaking stops.
    • If you’re under a shelter like a table, keep hold of it with one hand. * If you’re out in the open, continue to shield your head and neck with your arms.
  • When the ground starts to roll under your feet, resist the temptation to run outside.
    • Instead, take cover in place. But if you are already outdoors, stay outside and move away from buildings and power lines.
  • If you are driving, pull off the road.
    • But do not stop under an overpass or other structure that could crash down.
  • f you are on a coast when a strong earthquake strikes, get to higher ground as soon as you can.
    • While tsunami warning systems can help give some notice, it’s often too risky to wait for the alert to get to high ground.


  • Even after the ground grows still, the danger is not necessarily over.
  • As the Earth settles from its trembling it can produce a series of smaller quakes known as aftershocks.
  • On rare occasions, a second earthquake that’s even bigger than the first might follow.
  • Once the shaking subsides it’s time to start getting yourself and others ready for more.
  • First, check for injuries.
    • Sometimes people won’t initially feel pain because of the adrenaline that courses through the body during life-threatening events.
  • Next, check the gas and electric lines, and turn them off if you can do so safely.
  • If you are inside a heavily damaged structure, get yourself and others out as soon as possible.
  • If you’re trapped, stay calm.
  • Protect your mouth, nose, and eyes from the dust and call or text for help.
  • Make noise by whistling or shouting to get responders’ attention.
  • If you are outside, keep an eye out for hazards like fallen electrical lines, ruptured gas pipes, or precarious structures.
  • Turn on the radio and listen for updates.
  • Heed warnings and instructions from official organizations and be careful about what you see shared on social media.
    • Falsehoods spread like wildfire in emergency situations.
  • Let your family and friends know all is well on an appropriate website or Social media platform


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