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Earthquake

What should I do during an earthquake if I am indoors?

If you are indoors, remain indoors. In most situations, you should DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON
  • Drop down onto your hands and knees.
  • Cover your head and neck under the shelter of a strong table or desk (if not near a table or desk, get down near an interior wall).
  • Hold on to your shelter (desk/table) and be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts around you.


Other actions that may reduce your chances of getting hurt:

  • Avoid windows, tall furniture, large appliances, mirrors, hanging objects, etc.
  • Face away from windows and glass. Protect your eyes by keeping your head down.
  • Do not stand in a doorway. (In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house).
  • If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head with a pillow.
What should I do if I am outside during an earthquake?

If you are outdoors, stay there, but move away from buildings, power lines and trees. Do not stand near a building’s exterior walls. Once in the open, crouch low, cover your head and stay there until shaking stops.

If you are driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Avoid stopping under overhead hazards (bridges, power lines, large overhead signs). If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.

If indoors, what do I do once an earthquake stops?

Evacuate the building using the stairs. Avoid elevators. Check for dangerous conditions, such as downed power lines, structural damage and broken glass and gas leaks.

What causes most earthquake-related injuries?

Movement of the ground is seldom the actual cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related injuries result from collapsing walls, falling objects/debris (including glass, ceiling fixtures) or people trying to move more than a few feet during the tremors.

What else should I look out for?

Fire is a common hazard due to broken gas lines and damaged electrical lines. Do not use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain that there are no gas leaks. Beware of aftershocks (smaller earthquakes that follow the main one). Aftershocks can cause further damage to weakened buildings. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the original quake.

What environmental hazards may occur after an earthquake?

  • Water system breaks that may flood basement areas
  • Exposure to pathogens (a bacteria or virus that can cause disease) from sewer system breaks
  • Exposed and energized electrical wiring
  • Exposure to airborne smoke and dust (asbestos, silica, etc.)
  • Natural gas leaks creating flammable and toxic environments
  • Structural instability
  • Exposure to blood borne pathogens
  • Exposure to hazardous materials

How can I prepare for an earthquake?

Learn how to prepare for an earthquake at cdc.gov

What should I do after an earthquake?

Make sure your food and water supplies are safe.

Learn about coping with a disaster.

How Will I Cope?

Experiencing an earthquake can be very stressful, especially if it is large scale event. It can disrupt your everyday life and make you and those around you feel less safe. You may experience fear and uncertainty. Learning about stress and strategies to manage it can help you cope.

Prepare Today, Cope Better Tomorrow - Stress during Disasters provides basic information and practical advice on dealing with the stress and anxiety caused by disasters. It is available in seven languages.

If there is an earthquake affecting the city and you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, or if you are concerned about someone else, you can find help by calling 1-800 LIFENET. LIFENET is a free, confidential helpline for New York City residents, available 24/7, with trained staff ready to take your calls and offer advice: 1-800-LifeNet 1-800-543-3638 (English), 1-877-Ayudese 1-877-298-3373 (Spanish), 1-877-990-8585 (Chinese), 1-212-982-5284 (TTY).

Where can I get more information?

For more information about earthquakes, visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Earthquakes - Emergency Preparedness and Response

New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM)
Ready NY Earthquake Safety Guide

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Earthquake Safety Checklist

Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt Poster

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Earthquake Safety and Health Guide