Earthquake Ready

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In a disaster, like an earthquake, services such as cellphone coverage, power, water and quick access to emergency assistance are not guaranteed.   
There are proven actions you can take now to help you and your family be ready when an earthquake happens.  

  1. Make a kit with items your family will need for at least three days.   
  2. Secure items that could fall and hurt you and place items that could help you during an earthquake in easily accessible locations 
    • Bolt and brace tall and heavy items such as water heaters, bookcases, mirrors, and pictures; store heavy items on low shelves or in low cupboards 
    • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sleep or sit  
    • Tips about securing items in your home from ShakeOutBC  
    • Place a flashlight, sturdy shoes, and necessary mobility aids by each person’s bed in case the power goes out and there is debris from the earthquake  
  3. Meet your neighbours  
    • It could take time for outside help to arrive during a disaster. Talk to your neighbours ahead of time to see what resources and skills everyone has to help each other during a disaster, and to know who might need extra help 
  4. Practice what you will do when there is an earthquake in your home, at work, outside, or in your vehicle  
    • Identify safe places in each room of your home, workplace, and/or school  
    • Practice Drop, Cover and Hold On (more details below)  
    • Review and practice earthquake plans for all buildings you occupy regularly (home, school, work, etc.)  
Additional resources:      


Emergency management experts and other official preparedness organizations agree that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is usually the best action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes.   
Move no more than a few steps, then Drop, Cover and Hold On.   
If you are inside:  
Stay inside, move no more than a few steps, and Drop, Cover and Hold:  
  1. Drop: Drop to the ground before the earthquake causes you to fall  
  2. Cover: Take cover under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a desk or table to protect your head and torso from falling objects 
  3. Hold On: Hold on to the object you are under to remain covered, cover your head and neck with your free arm 
  • If you’re unable to get under something sturdy: flatten yourself or crouch against an interior wall 
  • Stay away from windows and heavy objects 
  • After the shaking stops, use stairs to exit buildings 
Additional Drop, Cover and Hold On tips 
  • If in a wheelchair, lock the wheels and protect the back of your head and neck 
  • If using a walker, lock the wheels, sit, and protect the back of your head and neck 
  • With young children:  
    • If you’re near an infant or young child:  
      • pick them up and hold them against your chest as you “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”  
      • If you can’t get under a table or piece of furniture, protect the child with your body while doing your best to cover your own head and neck 
      • If you’re nursing, stay seating or in bed, shielding your bodies with blankets or pillow 
    • If you’re in a separate room:  
      • Don’t run to them. You could be injured and then you can’t help them 
      • If possible, call out to them to tell them to Drop, Cover and Hold On. Talk to them in a calm tone or county with them to help with their anxiety 
      • If your child is in a crib, they are in a relatively safe place 
  • If you have a pet and it is nearby and comfortable being held, pick it up and hold it to your chest as you Drop, Cover and Hold On 
    • If the pet becomes aggressive and struggles to get away, let it go and stay covered. Your safety is the most important.  
    • If your pet is in its carrier or crate leave it inside 
If you are outside:  
  • Stay outside and go to an open area away from buildings, power lines, and other hazards.  
  • Drop to the ground, cover your head and neck, and stay there until the shaking stops.  
If you are in your car:  
  • Pull over to a clear area.  
  • Avoid bridges, overpasses, buildings, underpasses, or anything that could cause debris-fall.  
  • Keep your seatbelt on, set the parking brake, and stay in your car.  
  • Do not attempt to get out of your car if there are downed power lines across it; wait for assistance.  
  • Place a “Help” sign in your window or use your emergency flashers if you need assistance.  
If you are in a mountainous area or near slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes.  
If you are near the coastline, be aware of possible tsunami warnings – if the earthquake lasts for more than 20 seconds, a tsunami may occur. If possible, move to higher ground; it is good to review tsunami hazard maps for your area and places you travel to beforehand.   
What NOT to do:  
DO NOT get in a doorway. In modern buildings doorways are no safer than other areas and do not protect you from flying or falling objects, and doors can slam violently. Get under a table instead.  
DO NOT run outside. The ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris. Running outside is especially dangerous, as glass, bricks or other building materials may be falling. Stay inside and get under a table.  
DO NOT believe the “Triangle-of-Life.” In recent years, an email has circulated recommending potentially life-threatening actions. The source has been discredited by leading experts. Learn more here.  


  • After an earthquake, there may be other hazards. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides, or even a tsunami. Tsunamis are often generated by large earthquakes in coastal areas.  
  • Each time you feel an aftershock, Drop, Cover and Hold on. Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks, and even months following an earthquake.  
Protecting yourself and others 
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if needed, before helping injured or trapped persons.  
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children, older adults, and/or people with disabilities. 
  • Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.  
  • Look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.  
  • Tune into the radio or local news channels, and/or follow your local news outlet and emergency officials on social media for up-to-date information. You may need to use a portable, battery-operated or hand-crank radio.  
  • Check the telephones in your home or workplace to see if you can get a dial tone.  
  • Only use the telephone to call emergency services to report life-threatening emergencies. To contact other people, use texting, social media, or e-mail. 
  • Keep pets under your direct control.  
Around your home 
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.  
  • Fire is a common hazard after an earthquake. Look for and extinguish small fires.  
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.  
  • Do not light matches or turn on lights or appliances until you are sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids spilled.  
  • Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance.  
  • If tap water is still available immediately after an earthquake, fill safe containers in case the supply gets cut off.   
  • Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.  
  • If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.  
  • Once you return home, take the opportunity to review your family emergency plan and restock your personalized emergency kit.  
Getting around your community 
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas.  
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake; anticipate damaged roadways and traffic light outages.  
Continue to take precautions and listen to and follow directions from local authorities.  
Additional language resources 

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