Earthquake Preparedness

Washington State is earthquake country.  When the ground starts to shake, "Drop, Cover and Hold."

When you feel an earthquake, DROP and COVER under a desk or sturdy table.  Stay away from windows and objects like bookcases that could fall.  HOLD on to the desk or table.  If it moves, move with it.  Do not run - stay where you are.  "Drop, Cover and Hold."

Many people think the destruction caused by earthquakes is unavoidable, and that the only option is to pick up the pieces after the shaking stops.  Actually, almost all earthquake damages and losses can be reduced by steps you take before, during and after.  Many also think that all the damage and injuries from earthquakes comes from collapsing buildings.  Again, this isn't the case.  As buildings are designed better, more of the losses in earthquakes are from objects that break or fall on people causing injury.

The steps that follow include a range of actions to do before, during, and after earthquakes in order to be safe and reduce potential damage.  In addition to following these steps at home, they should also be followed in schools, workplaces, and other faculties. 

Be prepared for an earthquake

  • Anchor appliances and tall heavy furniture that might fall.  Put latches on cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling out.
  • Find out how you can improve your home to protect it against earthquake damage.
  • Establish an "out-of-area" contact and keep the phone numbers handy.  This is the person family members will call if you are separated.
  • Have a place at home where emergency supplies are kept and tell others where it is.

Create a disaster preparedness plan.

Prepare disaster supplies kit.

Identify your buildings potential weaknesses and begin to fix them.

Protect yourself during Earthquake Shaking: Drop, Cover and Hold On.
If you are indoors:

  • Stay inside.  Move under a desk or sturdy table and hold on to it.  If it moves, move with it.  Stay away from windows, bookcases, refrigerators, heavy mirrors, hanging plants and other objects that could fall.  Do not go outside until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a crowded store or public place, do not rush for an exit.  Move away from display shelves holding objects that could fall on you, and "drop, cover and hold."
  • If you are in a theater or stadium, stay in your seat, protect your head with your arms or get under the seat.  Do not leave until the shaking stops.

If you are outdoors:

  • If you are outdoors, move to a clear area away from trees, signs, buildings, or downed electrical wires and poles.

If you are in a downtown area:

  • If you are on a sidewalk near a tall building, get into a building's doorway or lobby to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass and other debris.

If you are driving:

  • If you are driving, slowly pull over to the side of the road and stop.  Avoid overpasses, power lines and other hazards.  Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops.

If you are in a wheelchair:

  • If you are in a wheelchair, stay in it.  Move to safe cover if possible, lock your wheels and protect your head with your arms.

After the earthquake:

  • If you were evacuated, wait until you are told it is safe before returning home.
  • Be careful entering buildings. Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Check yourself and those around you for injuries.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Use the phone only to report a life-threatening emergency.
  • Do not drive unnecessarily.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound - open a window and leave the building. Shut off the main gas valve outside.
  • Check on neighbors, particularly elderly or disabled persons.
  • Try to contact your out-of-area phone contact.
  • Listen to your radio.

When safe, continue to follow your disaster preparedness plan.

We're all in this together, so talk to your family friends, neighbors, and co-workers about what you've learned about earthquakes in Western Washington. Then discuss what everyone has done to prepare and plan together what else can be done.