If you are indoors when shaking starts:
Drop, cover and hold on. If you are not near a strong table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Avoid windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances and cabinets filled with heavy objects.
- Do not try to run out of the structure during strong shaking.
- If you are in a downtown area, it is safer to remain inside a building after an earthquake unless there is a fire or gas leak. Glass from high-rise buildings does not always fall straight down; it can catch a wind current and travel great distances.
- Do not use elevators.
- If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels and cover your head.
If you are outdoors when shaking starts:
- Move to a clear area if you can safely walk. Avoid power lines, buildings and trees.
- If you’re driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Avoid stopping under overhead hazards.
Once the earthquake shaking stops:
- Check the people around you for injuries; provide first aid. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger.
- Check around you for dangerous conditions, such as fires, downed power lines and structure damage.
- If you have fire extinguishers and are trained to use them, put out small fires immediately.
- Turn off the gas only if you smell gas.
- Check your phones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook and tied up lines.
If you are trapped in debris:
- Move as little as possible so that you don’t kick up dust. Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort.
Do not stand in a doorway: An enduring earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house, and the doorway does not protect you from falling or flying objects.
Do not get in the “triangle of life”: In recent years, an email has been circulating which describes an alternative to the long-established “drop, cover and hold on” advice. The so-called “triangle of life” and some of the other actions recommended in the email are potentially life threatening, and the credibility of the source of these recommendations has been broadly questioned.