When an earthquake occurs, your first warning may be a swaying sensation if you're in a building, a sudden noise or roar. Next, vibration, quickly followed by rolling up, down, sideways, rotating. It will be scary! It may last a few seconds or go on for a few minutes. The earth won't open up and swallow you. But you could be hurt by breaking glass, falling objects, and heavy things bouncing around. Be prepared for aftershocks.
- When the shaking begins, DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON. Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. The best protection from falling debris is under heavy furniture. The least safe place is directly outside of a building.
- If you are inside, stay inside until the shaking stops and you're sure it is safe to exit.
- Stay away from windows, mirrors, or other glass.
- In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off even if there is no fire.
- If you are outside, stay clear of buildings, power lines, overpasses, and elevated expressways.
- If you are in a vehicle, pull over at a clear location and stop. Stay in the vehicle, with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
- Expect aftershocks, which can occur hours or days after the initial quake.
- If you live in a coastal area, be aware of possible tsunamis. Listen to portable battery operated TV or radio for emergency updates.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing noise, open a window and leave the building immediately. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve, if possible, and call 9-1-1. Only use your phone to call if you can safely distance yourself from the odor of the gas. Remember not to use any appliance or open flame in areas where you still smell gas. Watch for fallen power lines.
- Open cabinets and doors cautiously.
Developed by NFPA. Funding provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Domestic Preparedness.