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Monday, June 08, 2009

Do you know what to do in an earthquake?

This might sound like a weird post, but bear with me. There aren't many natural disasters around the Seattle area - in fact, in a lot of ways, it's pretty much heaven on earth. However, it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

Do you know what to do in an earthquake? I realized...I have no idea. So I looked it up on the FEMA website:

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors:
  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
    Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

If outdoors:
  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle:
  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris:
  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

All good things to know!


  1. Thank you for posting this! I had no idea what to do in an earthquake before this (except to get under a desk and cover myself).

  2. I'm so confused. Can I take my laptop under the table with me if I'm revising when the earthquake hits? What about my tea?
    And what are the recommendations regarding working the earthquake into the story?

  3. I'm glad you posted this. I've experienced a few earthquakes growing up. Very scary!

    Annie, yes, grab that laptop! You probably will not care about the tea, however.

  4. I've lived in Idaho and Washington and have lived through a bunch of quakes. The best info site I've seen is http://www.earthquakecountry.info/dropcoverholdon/

    Void spaces beside a piece of furniture are the places where most living people were found. Weird but true!