Environmental Health and Safety
What to Do During an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- DO NOT use the elevators.
- Stay there.
- Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
If in a moving vehicle
- Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris
- Do not light a match.
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
After an earthquake
- Begin evacuation of the building by the nearest safe exits. Do not expect to be allowed back, so take any important belongings with you. Do NOT lock doors.
- Report significant damage and/or injuries or individuals trapped in buildings to Campus Police at 516-5155. If there is no answer, or if the line is busy, call the local emergency responders at 911.
- Provide information to emergency response personnel on what you saw, how many persons may be in the building and their location, if known. Assist mobility-impaired persons to an exit if safe to do so. Do NOT use elevators in evacuations. Immediately inform 1 st responders of locations of mobility-impaired persons unable to exit on their own.
A significant earthquake could affect large portion of the metro area. Adequate rescue and emergency services may not be available.
- Keep as far away from buildings as possible. Try to keep everyone from the building in a group for accountability. Develop predetermined accountability procedures per building.
- If it is safe to do so, check for injuries, but do not move seriously injured persons unless the danger in the area is greater than their injuries. Do not endanger yourself or others.
- Signs can be posted on buildings denoting whether all occupants got out or that people may still be trapped in the building. Provide as much information as possible to expedite rescue and emergency services when they become available.
- Keep streets clear for emergency vehicles, minimize telephone usage, avoid downed utilities, broken gas lines, etc. Prepare for potential aftershocks. Do not panic.
For additional information see the Federal Emergency Management Agency's web site at: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_during.shtm