During An Earthquake

During An Earthquake

Exterior walls and windows are the most dangerous places to be near during an earthquake. Walls collapse and windows shatter sharp shards of glass. Knowing what to do during an earthquake is essential and should be reviewed and understood clearly as it can save your life. How you act during an earthquake largely depends on where you are (at home, outside, in your car, etc). Read the various situations to learn what to do during an earthquake.


Drop Cover HoldIf you are already indoors, DO NOT go outside! It may be your instinct that tells you “RUN!” but this is a very BAD idea! During an earthquake there is debris and glass flying everywhere and your body is an open target if you are running around. Plus the shaking will probably prevent you from getting far before you’re knocked down on your butt. The BEST thing to do is DROP, COVER, HOLD ON!

Drop Cover Hold On

  • DROP – drop down to your hands and knees to prevent injury from the earthquake knocking you down.
  • COVER – take cover under a sturdy desk or table. If there isn’t one near you, cover your face and head with your arms. Falling or flying objects are the most common causes of injury.
  • HOLD ON – hold on to whatever is protecting you. The ground can shake violently causing a desk to move away and make you unprotected.

You should also try to move away from exterior walls, glass, hanging objects, heavy furniture, and appliances that can fall on you. If you’re in an office, DO NOT use the elevator. If you’re in the kitchen cooking, turn off your stove. If you are in bed sleeping, stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow. Chances are if you try and move around in the dark with debris flying everywhere, you’re going to get injured. If you’re ever in a situation where you can’t get to the floor safely, try to go to the inside corner of a room that’s away from windows and potential objects that could fall on you.


Outdoor PreparednessIf you are outdoors, move away from buildings, lamp posts, power lines, or anything else that can fall on you. If possible, try to get into an open area. Try to stay low and cover your head and neck until the shaking stops. Keep in mind that if you’re near the ocean there is a potential for a tsunami after a large earthquake just like the one that rocked Japan earthquake in 2011 so try to head for high ground after the shaking stops.

In a Car

Pole Hit Car During EarthquakeIf you’re in a car driving, stop as quickly and safely as possible but don’t stop under/on bridges or overpasses as they can collapse like The Bay Bridge in San Francisco/Oakland in 1989. Make sure you don’t park near lamp posts, overhead wires, or anything else that can fall on you. Your best bet is to STAY inside the car as it will act as a shield blocking all the debris from you. Turn the radio on and listen for emergency broadcast information. If a power line happens to fall on the car, DON’T GET OUT! The wires are probably live and have thousands of volts of electricity running through them and can kill you. Don’t touch anything, especially metal, and stay in the car until a trained person can remove the wire.

Next: Read about what to do AFTER an Earthquake


  1. Antwnios Marios

    I live in Greece, so earthquakes are a real problem here sometimes. Helpful advice :)

    1. Andy

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad this info can help others.

  2. Phillip

    After viewing your article about the Italy earthquake I came here. I just saw the massive destruction and thought: dang what would I do…Run out in the street? go upstairs so I didnt get completely* buried? What’s the best way to survive in a huge earthquake like that? Not just one that’s gonna knock a vase off my shelf…

    1. Andy

      It’s unfortunate that a lot of structures were old and not made to withstand such a powerful earthquake. Most cities in earthquake zones do have building codes in effect that ensure that all buildings are built to withstand earthquakes so the best thing you can do is DROP, COVER, HOLD ON!
      DROP to the ground so you won’t be knocked over and injure yourself from the shaking.
      Take COVER under a sturdy table or desk to protect you from falling debris and glass.
      HOLD ON to the legs of the table so that the desk won’t shake away from you and leave you unprotected.
      If you happen to be outside, try to go to an open area where no trees, utility poles, or buildings will collapse on you.


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