Skip Ribbon Commands Skip to main content
News & Resources Safety at Work Safety at Home Safety on the Road Products & Training NSC Congress & Expo Find NSC Near You
      NSC HOME > Safety at Home > Emergency Preparedness > Earthquakes      

Earthquakes:  Prepare Your Home and Family

Create a disaster plan and family emergency kit. Practice with your family how to be safe during an earthquake and how you will let each other know you are safe when it's over.

Identify potential hazards and earthquake-proof your home

  • Secure into wall studs the top corners of tall, top-heavy furniture, such as bookcases and entertainment centers. 
  • Use flexible -mount fastners to allow furniture independent movement and reduce the strain on studs. 
  • Use earthquake appliance straps to secure refrigerators and major appliances.
  • Fasten televisions, stereos, computers and microwaves with flexible nylon straps and buckles for easy removal and relocation.
  • Place latches on cabinet doors, especially those overhead, to help prevent content from falling out during the earthquake.
  • Store heavy items and breakables on lower shelves. Place only soft art on the walls above beds or sofas.
  • Have a plumber evaluate, replace and properly secure rusted or worn water and gas pipes.
  • Replace rigid gas connections to water heaters, stoves, dryers and other gas appliances with flexible (corrugated) stainless-steel gas connectors.
  • Anchor water heaters to walls studs with metal straps.

Stay Safe When The Shaking Starts

If you are indoors...

DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.  If you are not near a desk or a table, drop to the floor next to an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms.  Avoid exterior walls, windows, tall furniture, large appliances, cabinets filled with heavy items, hanging objects and mirrors.

  • In bed - hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. Put on your shoes before stepping on the floor due to broken glass and debris.
  • In a high-rise building - Drop, Cover and Hold On. Avoid windows. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems and fire alarms activate.

If you are outdoors...

Move to a clear area if you can do so safely; avoid buildings, power lines, trees and other hazards.  Always assume power lines are live.

  • Near tall buildings - Windows, building surfaces and architectural details are often the first parts of buildings to collapse in a quake.  Get away from this danger zone when shaking starts. Take refuge in a safe building or move to an open area.
  • Driving - When able, safely pull over to the side of the road, stop and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs, trees and other things that might collapse or fall on the vehicle.  Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking ends. If a power line falls onto your vehicle, stay inside until a trained person removes the hazard.

After The Earthquake

Check for Damage and Hazardous Conditions

  • Fire - If possible, put out small fires in your home or neighborhood immediately. Call for help, but remember first responders may not be able to reach your home or neighborhood if roads and bridges are damaged by the quake.
  • Damaged Wiring - Shut off power at the main breaker switch if there is any damage to your home. Leave the power off until the damage is repaired.
  • Downed Utility Lines - Never touch downed power lines or place any objects in contact with the downed power line.
  • Falling Items - Be aware that heavy items may fall off shelves when you open closets and cabinet doors.
  • Gas Leaks - Turn off the gas only if you suspect a broken pipe or leak. Don't turn gas back on by yourself - wait for the gas company.
  • Spills - Use Personal Protective Equipment such as safety glasses, rubber gloves and respiratory protection and extreme caution when cleaning up spilled substances. When in doubt, leave your home until the substances can be safely removed.
  • Damaged Chimneys and Walls - Stay away from brick chimneys and walls. They may be weakened and could topple during aftershocks. Don't use a fireplace with a damaged chimney, as this could start a fire or create a carbon monoxide hazard.  

If your home is damaged...

  • Do not reenter your home until you know it's safe.
  • Be sure there are no gas leaks before using open flames or operating electrical equipment.
  • Check for chemical spills, faulty electrical wiring and broken water lines. Water contact with faulty wiring is a shock hazard.
  • Unplug broken or toppled light fixtures and appliances. These could start fires.
  • Beware of carbon monoxide hazards. Do not use camp stoves, gas or charcoal grills or kersone or gas lanterns or stoves inside your home.


Are you prepared for an earthquake?

Learn more about how to keep your family safe. Get your free copy of Family Safety & Health magazine today!


Play Beat The Quake, an online earthquake preparedness game.


Learn how to participate in the 2012 Great Central U.S. Shakeout.

Train your family in how to respond in an emergency. 

Join your local CERT. Know what to do to help your neighbors and community recover.

  CONTACT US: 1121 Spring Lake Drive Itasca, IL 60143-3201     1-800-621-7615  
Disclaimer & Privacy Policy      About Us      Careers      Sitemap      Contact Us     
Instant SSL Certificate Secure Site

McAfee Secure sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams