What to do when an earthquake hits

OAKLAND (KRON) - Safety experts say when the earth shakes, residents should remember the drill taught to students across California schools: drop, cover, and hold. DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. Emergency officials say if there is no furniture near-by to hold on to, find a corner in the building you’re in, crouch down and cover your face and head with your arms.

Experts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency advise not to run out of a building during the shaking because of the threat of falling objects which can lead to serious injuries.

After the shaking stops, experts say people should safely evacuate the building they’re in, keeping in mind that aftershocks can also produce powerful jolts. These additional shaking events can be strong enough to cause damage to already weakened structures, according to emergency officials. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the main event.

FEMA says when a large quake hits, residents should have a professional engineer or local building official inspect the structural integrity of your home for potential damages. Experts say the inspection should include: checking for gas, electrical, sewer, and water line damages to avoid hazardous leaks as well as checking a chimney for unnoticed damage that could lead to fires. Emergency officials say even a few cracks that may not be outwardly obvious can create unsafe conditions the next time the fire place is used.

Experts also remind residents that there are a number of safety measures you can take now to potentially minimize quake damage and be prepared when the next big one hits:

-Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items.
-Establish a disaster plan and decide how you will communicate with family members in the event of an emergency.
-Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations.

Officials also say residents can minimize financial hardship by retrofitting and strengthening property as well as organizing important documents and keeping them readily accessible. Some experts say residents may also want to consider getting earthquake insurance.

Earthquake emergency kits: What you need

Stock up now on emergency supplies that can be used after an earthquake. These supplies should include a first aid kit, survival kits for the home, automobile, and workplace, and emergency water and food. Store enough supplies to last at least 3 days.

First Aid Kit

Store your first aid supplies in a tool box or fishing tackle box so they will be easy to carry and protected from water. Inspect your kit regularly and keep it freshly stocked. NOTE: Important medical information and most prescriptions can be stored in the refrigerator, which also provides excellent protection from fires.


  • Hydrogen peroxide to wash and disinfect wounds
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Individually wrapped alcohol swabs
  • Aspirin and non-aspirin tablets
  • Prescriptions and any long-term medications (keep these current)
  • Diarrhea medicine
  • Eye drops


  • Bandage strips
  • Ace bandages
  • Rolled gauze
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Adhesive tape roll

Other First Aid Supplies

  • First aid book
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Bar soap
  • Tissues
  • Sunscreen
  • Paper cups
  • Pocket knife
  • Small plastic bags
  • Safety pins
  • Needle and thread
  • Instant cold packs for sprains
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Splinting materials

Survival Kit for Your Home

Assemble a survival kit for your home with the following items:

Tools and supplies

  • ax, shovel, broom
  • screwdriver, pliers, hammer, adjustable wrench
  • rope for towing or rescue
  • plastic sheeting and tape

Items for safety and comfort

  • sturdy shoes that can provide protection from broken glass, nails, and other debris
  • gloves (heavy and durable for cleaning up debris)
  • candles
  • waterproof matches
  • change of clothing
  • knife
  • garden hose (for siphoning and firefighting)
  • tent
  • recreational supplies for children and adults
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • portable radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • essential medications and eyeglasses
  • fire extinguisher — multipurpose, dry chemical type
  • food and water for pets
  • toilet tissue
  • cash

Survival Kit for Your Automobile

Assemble a survival kit for your automobile with the following items. Storing some of these supplies in a small bag or backpack will make them more convenient to carry if you need to walk.

  • Blankets
  • Bottled water
  • Change of clothes
  • Coins for telephone calls
  • Fire extinguisher — multipurpose, dry chemical type
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Emergency signal device (light sticks, battery-type flasher, reflector, etc.)
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Food (nonperishable — nutrition bars, trail mix, etc.)
  • Gloves
  • Local map and compass
  • Rope for towing, rescue, etc.
  • Paper and pencils
  • Premoistened towelettes
  • Prescription medicines
  • Battery-operated radio with fresh batteries
  • Small mirror for signaling
  • Toilet tissue
  • Tools (pliers, adjustable wrench, screwdriver, etc.)
  • Whistle for signaling
  • Jumper cables
  • Duct tape

Survival Kit for Your Workplace

Assemble a survival kit for the workplace with the following supplies:

  • Food (nonperishable — nutrition bars, trail mix, etc.)
  • Bottled water
  • Jacket or sweatshirt
  • Pair of sturdy shoes
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Battery-operated radio with fresh batteries
  • Essential medications
  • Blanket
  • Small first aid kit
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses and/or contact lens solution
  • Whistle or other signaling device

Content source: 
National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention (CCEHIP)

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