Facebook Twitter Instagram youTube

Earthquake safety tips

Terrain crumbling.

Jan. 23, 2020—Earthquakes can happen anywhere—and without warning. That's why Puerto Rico's 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 7 is such a powerful reminder to be as prepared as possible.

This advice from Ready.gov can help keep you, your family and your property safe if an earthquake strikes.

What to do before a quake

Planning for an earthquake can help you survive one. Focus on:

1. Learning the signs. In an earthquake, you may experience a shaking or rolling motion in the walls, floor or ground. That movement may grow more intense within seconds. If you try to move, you may be knocked off your feet. You may also hear noises that sound as though a big truck or train is passing nearby.

2. Establishing a communication plan. Decide on where—and how—to meet with family members if you get separated.

3. Practicing these three earthquake survival steps with your family:

  • Drop to your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn't knock you down.
  • Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris. If you're in danger from debris and can move safely, seek cover somewhere safer—for example, under a desk.
  • Hold on to any sturdy covering until the shaking stops.

4. Making an emergency supply kit. At a minimum, have on hand:

  • At least three days of food and water for every member of your family.
  • A whistle to signal you need help, a flashlight and fire extinguisher.
  • A solar or hand-crank cellphone charger.
  • Medical supplies.

5. Ready your home. Secure heavy items that might fall or fly and cause injuries, like bookcases, refrigerators, televisions, light fixtures and mirrors. Store heavy and breakable items on low shelves. Consider an earthquake insurance policy—standard homeowners' insurance policies don't cover earthquake damage.

When an earthquake starts

Protect yourself as quickly as possible. Here's what you should do, depending on where you are:

  • Indoors. Remember to drop, cover and hold on. Stay away from glass, windows, walls and anything that could fall, such as furniture. Don't get in a doorway. That won't protect you from flying or falling objects, plus, you probably won't be able to stay upright. Remain inside until the shaking stops—never run outside.
  • Outdoors. If you can, move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires. Once you're in the open, drop, cover and hold on. Stay put until the shaking stops. If you're in a city, you may need to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris.
  • In bed. Stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow. At night dangerous debris is hard to see, so you're less likely to be hurt if you don't leave your bed.
  • In a moving vehicle. Stop as quickly and safely as possible—and put on your emergency brake. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires. Remain parked and in your car until the shaking stops.

Get more disaster preparedness tips

Visit our Disaster Preparedness topic center for more smart tips on protecting yourself and your family.

Read more breaking news Related stories