Earthquakes are not predictable, just as a tsunami. Fortunately, earthquakes are far less dangerous than say a hurricane, flash-flood or tsunami, and generally last less than a minute. Earthquakes occur at cracks beneath the surface of the earth, called fault-lines and can be felt several miles away from it's origin. There is a common misconception that if you don't live near near a fault-line, that you are not in danger of being impacted by the earthquake. The fact of the matter is, all 50 states and U.S. territories are at risk, some larger than others. If you happen to live near a fault-line, it's good practice to study your surroundings every once in a while, so you can identify safe locations to escape too. These can include hiding underneath sturdy furniture or moving to the corner if there isn't any furniture nearby.
In the event of an earthquake:
- If you begin to feel shaking and you're indoors, remain indoors. Don't try to run outside during an earthquake, because both the shaking and falling debris can knock you down.
- Immediately drop to the floor on your hands and knees, before the earthquake forces you to the ground.
- When your on the ground, cover your head and neck with your hands and arms to protect yourself from falling debris.
- It's far more important to move to a safe place once your on the ground, such as underneath a sturdy piece furniture that doesn't have a glass tabletop.
- If you can't find a sturdy piece of furniture, locate yourself to the nearest corner, but remember to stay away from windows and doors.
- If none of the options above are possible, try to find a stable object to hold onto. Stay there until the shaking stops.
- Earthquakes can happen at any time of the day or night. If you find yourself in bed in the midst of an earthquake at the middle of the night, stay there. Moving in the dark is difficult to move in, and usually results in more injuries than staying in bed.
- If your outdoors during an earthquake, stay outdoors. This is by far the safest place you could possibly be. If you live in a city, move yourself away from electrical wires and buildings around you. You no longer have to worry about a building collapsing on you, but you do have to worry about debris falling from the buildings themselves.
- If your driving in the event of an earthquake, stop if you feel you are in a safe location. If your surrounded by trees or buildings, try with minimal movement to move away from them as these could pose a threat as well. Once you feel your in a safe spot, put your hazard lights on and remain there until the shaking stops. Afterwards, you can proceed driving again with caution but avoid bridges for the most part.
- Once the shaking stops, move yourself outdoors and away from potentially damaged buildings.
- Be prepared to drop to the floor again in the event the shaking returns, these are called aftershocks and may occur shortly after the initial shaking.
- If you have a cell phone, call your emergency hot line if you believe anyone might be trapped or injured.
- If you find yourself trapped, don't move. You don't know how bad your surroundings may be, and trying to free yourself could make matters worse.
- If you can whistle, whistle when you hear people nearby to indicate to them that you need assistance. If you can't whistle, bang or tap on anything near you so rescue workers know your still alive and need to be rescued.