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Preparing for the unexpected

Be prepared for an earthquake

To reduce the risk of damage to your home and injury, you should:

  • Create an emergency kit and make a family communication and evacuation plan. Identify safe spots in each room of your home.
  • Make sure shelves are securely fastened to walls, and place large or heavy objects on bottom shelves.
  • Store breakable items in low, closed cabinets that can be latched shut.
  • Make sure overhead light fixtures are securely fastened to ceilings, and heavy items – such as picture frames and mirrors – to walls.
  • Secure your water heater with a wide metal strap and attach it to wall studs.

During an earthquake

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends a strategy called Drop, Cover and Hold On:

  • DROP down on your hands and knees at the first sign of an earthquake, so it doesn't knock you down.
  • COVER your head and neck and try to find shelter under a sturdy table or near an interior wall.
  • HOLD ON to something sturdy until the shaking stops.

And if you're outside when an earthquake strikes, stay outside. Try to get to an area away from buildings and utility wires.

After an earthquake

  • After the shaking stops, make sure everyone is all right. Call 911 if anyone is seriously injured.
  • Leave the building if there’s a clear, safe exit.
  • Watch out for smaller aftershocks following an earthquake – and be prepared to Drop, Cover and Hold On again if you feel one.