Earthquake Safety Guide

Earthquakes are one of the most potentially destructive natural disasters, often wreaking significant havoc when they strike. High magnitude quake can leave catastrophic damage in its wake in both the epicenter and surrounding areas. Particularly in certain parts of the country that are more susceptible to earthquakes, advance preparation is critical. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to help increase the probability of making it through an earthquake. Use the following resources to educate yourself on what to do in the event of an earthquake, how to be better prepared to care for yourself and your family in the aftermath of a quake, and even to find out more about how earthquakes work.

Safety and Preparedness

Today’s high-tech equipment enables experts to predict which areas are most susceptible to earthquakes, but they can’t determine with any real accuracy exactly when and where one will strike. Things we often take for granted like utility crews and emergency response teams may not be available for some time after an earthquake. That’s why preparation is so important. Being ready in the event of an earthquake will give you the best chance at surviving and being able to help others. Consult the resources listed here for the best and most up-to-date information about earthquake preparedness.

  • Earthquake Safety Guide for Homeowners – This page from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has information to help homeowners plan earthquake reinforcement projects on their homes. Use it to find out if your house meets seismic safety standards.
  • Ready.gov Earthquake Page – Are you ready? If an earthquake happened right now, would you be sufficiently prepared? Find out by visiting this government sponsored resource page.
  • Earthquake Preparedness for the Home – This collection of resources comes from the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety, or IIHBS. You’ll find how-to guides for lots of projects to help make your home or office more earthquake-safe, from properly securing appliances to checking into your local building codes.
  • Be Ready Utah – While this page was designed to help Utah residents prepare for an earthquake, most of the great information it contains is applicable no matter where you live. You can download safety guides covering several topics, including family earthquake plans and how to keep young children safe.
After a Quake: Where to Go, What to Do

What you do after an earthquake is just as important as what you do during one. In the aftermath of a disaster, people are often disoriented and confused. That’s why it’s crucial to know ahead of time what you should do after the shaking subsides. It’s also likely that you will lose access to amenities like water and heat - and you may even lose your home. In such cases, it’s imperative that you know where to turn for help. Use the links in this section for information about post-earthquake safety and to connect with aid-giving organizations when you need them most.

  • After an Earthquake – From the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) comes this quick-tip page. You may want to commit this guide to memory - or print and keep it close at hand. These basic yet vital tips will come in handy after an earthquake, and following them could literally save lives.
  • American Red Cross – You’ll want to have contact with the Red Cross if a major earthquake ever strikes where you live. The Red Cross is often one of the first groups to set up emergency medical services and shelters for the displaced. Their site also has all kinds of resources to help you be more prepared for emergencies like earthquakes.
  • FEMA “After an Earthquake” Page – This page, part FEMA’s network of earthquake information resources, gives thorough instructions for how to proceed immediately following a quake. There are links to post-disaster food safety information, as well as ways to connect with FEMA in real-time via social media, mobile apps, and more if you need to find a shelter or an aid station in your area.
  • CDC Post-Quake Podcasts – This series of podcasts, made available through the US Centers for Disease Control, address important health and safety issues that may come up directly after an earthquake. Listen to these and you’ll be ready to handle just about anything in the aftermath of a major quake.
Earthquake Safety for Kids

You may not be with your children when disaster strikes, and lines of communication are often down for several days after an earthquake. This is why it’s incredibly important to establish a plan together with your family, and to review the plan often with your children. Being vigilant with your kids about earthquake safety now will increase your chances of reuniting and surviving after one occurs. Use the resources below to help you find ideas for teaching kids the facts about being ready for an earthquake in ways that are fun and not scary.

  • Earthquake Safety Activities for Children and Teachers – On this page, FEMA provides lesson plans for teachers to help kids learn about earthquake safety. There are lots of engaging activities, from preparedness drills to classroom hazard hunts.
  • Earthquakes for Kids – This earthquake information page designed specifically for kids comes courtesy of the United States Geological Society (USGS). Young people can click around to see pictures of quake damage all over the world, play educational games, and even get ideas for school science fair projects.
  • Earthquakes by Geology for Kids – This article, geared toward younger kids, provides a simple explanation of what happens to the earth during an earthquake. Children can also explore elsewhere on the site to learn more about the makeup and behavior of our earth.
  • Earthquake Videos – For older kids and teens, try this archive of earthquake videos from the Discovery Channel. These fascinating, high-quality videos are as informative as they are fun to watch - and make excellent resources for use in reports and presentations.
Stats, Data, and Tools

Part of earthquake preparedness is gaining an understanding of how earthquakes work, and where they are most likely to occur. Between the technology of today and the capabilities of the Internet, regular people can have access to sophisticated tools like probability calculators and seismic activity trackers at-a-glance. Use the trusted sites listed below to explore some earthquake tech and gain a more in-depth knowledge of these phenomena.

  • Earthquake Probability Map – Want to know if you are living in or will be visiting an earthquake-prone area? Check this hazard map to see the earthquake “hot spots” in the United States.
  • USGS Earthquake Hazard Page – Track seismic activity around the world using the US Geological Survey’s page, which is equipped with all of the latest technology to provide real-time data.
  • FEMA Earthquake Central – FEMA’s earthquake safety main page is a hub of earthquake related data and resources. From activity maps to worksheets and checklists, you’ll find no shortage of helpful tools for anyone hoping to learn more about earthquakes and disaster preparedness.
  • Earthquake FAQs from Berkeley – UC Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory answers many common questions about earthquakes, including where the safest area in a house really is to just how tectonic plates work. Some of the questions are specific to the Bay Area of California, but most are general and apply everywhere.