When the Shaking Stops - Sure, we know to Drop, Cover and Hold. But then what?
1) Carefully assess your environment with all your senses. Be careful not to inhale airborne particles (keep eyes and mouth closed) and be on the alert for heat or smoke. Listen for anything that may still be shifting or falling.
2) Then, open your eyes and look around in all directions. Has anything shifted or fallen? Slowly get up, being sure to not hit your head or stumble into anything that has moved. Look at the ground - are there any broken objects or glass that could hurt you?
3) When you are back on your feet:
You may need to evacuate your building if there was strong shaking, especially if there are reports of structural damage. You may also need to turn off your gas valve if you smell gas. Consider turning off your circuit breakers, but only do so one by one and after you have shut off all light switches to prevent any sparking which could cause a fire.
If you are near a large body of water (the ocean or a large lake), move to higher ground as soon as you can safely do so - damaging waves can arrive within minutes:
- Go on foot. Roads and bridges may be damaged.
- If evacuation is impossible, go to the third or higher floor of a sturdy building or climb a tree. This should only be used as a last resort.
- Stay away from the coast until officials tell you it is safe to return. The danger may last for days.
4) Once you have determined that you are safe, begin informing others of your status, or check in on others. Text first, talk second - a text is far more likely to go through. Cell lines may be busy, due to the great amount of phone calls others are making. Texts take way less bandwidth than a phone call.
For more tips about what to do once the shaking stops, visit earthquakecountry.org/step6. Remember: as the minutes, hours, and days pass, stay vigilant. Aftershocks could continue. You can learn more about reconnecting and restoring as time goes on in the weeks and months following an earthquake, such as tips on filing insurance claims and rebuilding, at earthquakecountry.org/step7.
Emergency Kit Checklist
Here is a list of items to make sure you have in your emergency kit.
For more information on the following topics, please click on the appropriate link.
Seven Steps to Earthquake Preparedness - To make sure you are practicing the correct safety procedures.
One minute recordings are available in English and Spanish for you to play on any device that can support YouTube videos. These provide step-by-step instructions and explain for why each action is important.