Earthquakes are the shaking, rolling or sudden shock of the earth’s surface. Earthquakes happen along cracks (called fault lines) in the earth's surface. Earthquakes can be felt over large areas, although they usually last less than one minute. Unfortunately earthquakes cannot be predicted, but you can be prepared for them.
Words to Know
Seismic Activity Another word for earthquakes, along with tremors, quakes and shakes
Fault Lines Cracks in the rocks below the earth’s surface
Aftershock A smaller earthquake that follows the main shock or previous earthquake
Epicenter The center, or focus, of an earthquake, from which seismic waves are sent spherically in many directions
Know the safe spots in every room – under a sturdy table or against an inside wall.
Ask your family to hold earthquake drills – drop, cover, and hold on!
During an earthquake
DROP to the ground.
Take COVER under a sturdy table or other heavy furniture. If there is nothing to get under, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch near an inside wall.
HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
STAY AWAY from windows, glass, lighting fixtures, or furniture that could fall – like bookcases.
Do not use elevators!
Move away from buildings and streetlights to avoid falling debris. Keep away from downed wires to help avoid electrical shock.
Stay out in the open until the shaking stops. Buildings could collapse and hurt you.
If trapped under debris:
Cover your mouth with your shirt.
Try not to shout or scream – you could breathe in dust.
Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can find you.
After the shaking stops
Expect aftershocks. They are usually not as strong but can cause damage.
Monitor radio or TV news reports for updates about emergency information.
Open cabinets carefully. Objects that have moved could fall on you.
Wear long pants, long sleeves and shoes to protect your skin from getting scratched by broken objects.
Text, don’t talk. Unless there’s a life-threatening situation, if you have a cell phone, send a text so that you don’t tie up phone lines needed by emergency workers. Plus, texting may work even if cell service is down.
Additional earthquake safety and disaster preparedness resources