(KTXL) — It’s easy to get startled when an earthquake strikes as things begin to shake and possibly fall over, but knowing what to do can help keep you and your family safe.

Emergency officials say there are three words to remember when a quake hits: drop, cover and hold.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s disaster guidelines say you can protect yourself in most situations by dropping down onto your hands and knees. Getting into this position will help prevent you from falling while still allowing you to move. 

Next, get under a sturdy table or desk to help cover your head and neck — if possible cover your whole body.

Officials say to hold onto the shelter if possible and be ready to move with it during the shaking. If you are not able to hold onto the shelter, hold onto your head and neck with both arms and hands.

If there isn’t something that can be used for shelter, the CDC recommends people use their hands and arms to cover their head and neck and get near any low-lying furniture that won’t fall onto you or an interior wall.

People are advised against being under doorways as they are not sturdier than other parts of the house in modern homes and are not good at protecting you. 

“Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by falling or flying objects (such as TVs, lamps, glass, or bookcases), or by being knocked to the ground,” the CDC said. 

People who are outside when an earthquake strikes should stay outside and avoid utility wires, gas and power lines, buildings and trees. 

What to do after an earthquake

Emergency officials say to check for any hazards after the ground has stopped shaking:

  • Gas leaks
  • Fires and fire hazards
  • Damaged electrical wiring
  • Damaged or downed chimneys

It is advised to open doors and cupboards with caution as items on shelves or in the cabinets could have been knocked over.

People should also expect aftershocks that can be strong and cause more shaking.