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What to do After an Earthquake

After a major earthquake, you should remember that emergency services like fire, police, and medical personnel may be unavailable for extended periods of time. First responders may be injured themselves and/or their equipment may be damaged. Emergency professionals recommend that you plan to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days, but if possible up to 2 weeks.

Just because the shaking has stopped does not mean the danger is over. Post-earthquake fires, gas-line breaks, falling debris, and many other hazards will continue to threaten people in the earthquake area.

The list below will provide you with some good suggestions for protecting yourself and those around you.

  • Think before moving! Remain in a safe position until the shaking stops. Move slowly and carefully. Many serious injuries are caused by hasty or careless actions, not collapsing buildings.
  • Move slowly. Evacuate your home with caution. Use alternate routes if the primary exit is blocked. Meet your family outside in a pre-designated spot away from buildings that may be dangerous.
  • Wear shoes to protect your feet from broken glass and objects that have fallen. Remember, there may not be immediate medical assistance if you injure your feet and require treatment.
  • Be on the alert for several strong aftershocks or earthquakes. Be careful; aftershocks may cause additional damage to weakened buildings.
  • Avoid other probable dangers including fire, landslides, and flooding.
  • Use a flashlight, not a candle. Sparks, open flames, gas lanterns, or cigarettes may cause a fire or explosion if there is a gas leak.
  • Check buildings for structural damage if you must go inside. The primary earthquake could cause internal structural damage. An aftershock, although usually milder, could cause more damage. Look for severe cracks.
  • Check water supply, food storage, and first aid supplies. Carefully open cabinets. Be alert for falling objects.
  • Confine pets, as they may become more nervous after an earthquake. Contain them so they don't get away and hurt themselves or others. Make sure they have food; water; a sanitation area; and a safe, dry place to sleep.
  • Stay put. Do not attempt to drive. Leave roads clear for emergency vehicles. Roadways may also be blocked with obstacles that make driving unsafe. Bridges and overpasses may be impassable or dangerous.
  • Turn on your battery operated radio to listen for advisories.

REMEMBER: Many earthquake injuries are caused by panic; take your time and think before you move.

For more information on what to do after an earthquake, click on the links below.

What to do before an earthquake

What to do during an earthquake