How to Prepare for an Earthquake

Prepare for an Earthquake

Earthquakes can bring mild to violent shaking and can occur anytime, anywhere. This guide can help you protect yourself, your family, and your property before, during, and after an earthquake.


WHAT: An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time. Initial mild shaking may strengthen and become extremely violent within seconds. Additional earthquakes, called aftershocks, may occur for hours, days, or even months. Most are smaller than the initial earthquake but larger magnitude aftershocks also occur.

WHEN: Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year and occur without warning.

WHERE: All U.S. states and territories are at some risk for earthquakes. The risk is higher in identified seismic zones.

IMPACT: Larger earthquakes may cause deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Most casualties and injuries during an earthquake occur when people fall while trying to walk or run during theshaking; when they are hit by falling, flying, or sliding household items or non-structural debris;
and/or when they are struck or trapped by collapsing walls or other parts of the building. Transportation, power, water, gas, and other services may be disrupted. In some areas, shaking can cause liquefaction—when the ground acts more like a liquid. When this happens the ground can no longer support the
weight of a building. In coastal areas, earthquakes under the sea floor can cause tsunamis.

CLICK HERE for a complete overview of protective actions to take before, during, and after an earthquake.