What To Do And What Not To Do During An Earthquake

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Earthquakes are powerful and unpredictable natural phenomena that can strike without warning, causing widespread destruction and posing significant risks to life and property. Being informed and prepared is essential to minimizing the impact of earthquakes and ensuring the safety of yourself and your loved ones. This comprehensive guide provides detailed information on understanding earthquakes and practical steps to take before, during, and after an earthquake event.

What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake is the shaking of the Earth’s surface caused by the sudden release of energy in the Earth’s crust. This energy release creates seismic waves that propagate through the Earth, causing the ground to shake. Earthquakes can vary in intensity and duration, ranging from minor tremors to major seismic events that can cause widespread devastation.

Understanding Earthquake Hazards

Before delving into earthquake preparedness, it’s crucial to understand the hazards associated with seismic activity. These hazards include:

  • Ground Shaking: The primary hazard during an earthquake is ground shaking, which can cause buildings, bridges, and other structures to collapse.
  • Surface Rupture: In some cases, earthquakes can cause the ground to rupture along fault lines, resulting in surface displacement and structural damage.
  • Landslides and Avalanches: Earthquakes can trigger landslides and avalanches, particularly in mountainous regions, posing additional risks to communities.
  • Tsunamis: Underwater earthquakes can generate tsunamis, massive ocean waves capable of causing widespread coastal flooding and destruction.

Before an Earthquake: Preparedness Measures

If you live in a high risk area, preparation is key to minimizing the impact of earthquakes on individuals and communities. Here are essential steps to take before an earthquake occurs:

  1. Create an Emergency Plan: Develop a comprehensive emergency plan with your family or household members. Identify safe spots in each room, establish communication protocols, and designate a meeting place outside the home.
  2. Secure Your Home: Secure heavy furniture and appliances to prevent them from toppling during shaking. Install latches on cabinets to prevent contents from spilling out.
  3. Build an Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit containing essential supplies such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, batteries, a first-aid kit, medications, and important documents.
  4. Educate Yourself and Your Family: Ensure that all family members are familiar with earthquake safety procedures, including “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Conduct regular earthquake drills to practice these procedures.

During an Earthquake: Safety Procedures

When an earthquake strikes, it’s essential to know how to protect yourself and others. Follow these safety procedures:

  • Indoors: Drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops. Avoid doorways, windows, and exterior walls.
  • Outdoors: Move to an open area away from buildings, trees, and utility poles. Drop to the ground and cover your head and neck until the shaking subsides.
  • In a Vehicle: Pull over to a safe area away from overpasses, bridges, and power lines. Stay inside the vehicle and keep your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
  • In High-rise Buildings: Stay indoors and take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture. Avoid using elevators and move away from windows and exterior walls.

After an Earthquake: Recovery and Safety Checks

After the shaking stops, it’s time to assess the damage and ensure safety. Follow these steps:

  1. Check for Injuries: Assess yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid if necessary, but avoid moving seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger.
  2. Inspect Your Home: Check your home for structural damage, gas leaks, electrical hazards, and water line damage. If you suspect damage, evacuate until it can be inspected by professionals.
  3. Prepare for Aftershocks: Be prepared for aftershocks, which can occur following the initial earthquake. Remain vigilant and ready to take cover if necessary.
  4. Communicate and Reunite: Contact family members and reunite at the designated meeting place outside the home. Use text messages or social media to communicate, as phone lines may be overwhelmed.
  5. Stay Informed: Listen to a battery-operated radio for updates and instructions from local authorities. Follow their guidance regarding evacuation orders and safety precautions.
  6. Assist Others: If it’s safe to do so, assist neighbors who may require help, especially vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, infants, and people with disabilities.


Earthquakes are natural disasters that require careful preparation and swift action to mitigate their impact. By understanding the hazards associated with earthquakes and implementing proactive safety measures, individuals and communities can minimize the risks to life and property. Remember, preparedness is the key to surviving and recovering from earthquakes, so take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and stay safe.

Franck Saebring

A family man and writer, Franck is passionate about anything tech and science-related.