How to Prepare for an Emergency – Earthquakes

The Puget Sound region is seismically active, with hundreds of earthquakes occurring every year. Most of these earthquakes are so small they can only be detected by sensitive instruments. However, damaging earthquakes have occurred in this region during the past 130 years. The danger and risks of earthquakes can be reduced if people know what actions to take before, during and after an earthquake.

One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects. 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.

The Great Washington Shakeout - October 15, 2015

Last year, 1 million Washington residents participated in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, out of more than 26.5 million worldwide. In 2015 most ShakeOut drills will occur on 10/15 at 10:15 a.m.

Below you will find information on training courses that can assist you with your buildings before and after an earthquake. Below is a list of the course names along with dates and locations. If you are interested in attendance, please contact the course organizer.

Start Date End Date State City Course Contact for information & registration
08/12/15 08/12/15 OR Medford FEMA P-154, and ATC-20
08/17/15 08/18/15 OR Portland FEMA P-154, ATC-20 and ROVER
08/19/15 08/20/15 OR Portland FEMA P-154, ATC-20 and ROVER
09/09/15 09/09/15 WA Seattle FEMA P-154 and ATC-20
09/10/15 09/10/15 WA Camp Murray FEMA E-74
09/16/15 09/16/15 ID Boise FEMA P-154 and ATC-20
09/25/15 09/25/15 WA Ilwaco FEMA E-74 and ATC-20

Class Descriptions:
FEMA P-154: Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Hazards
ATC-20: Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluation of Buildings
E-74: Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage

Prepare Your Home

Make your home safe and more resistant to earthquake damage by assessing its structure and contents. Depending on when and how it was designed and built, the structure you live in may have weaknesses that make it more vulnerable to earthquakes. Common examples include structures not anchored to their foundations or having weak crawl space walls, unbraced pier-and-post foundations, or unenforced masonry walls or foundations.

What is in your home can be as or more dangerous and damage-prone than the structure itself. Any unsecured objects that can move, break, or fall as an earthquake shakes your home are potential safety hazards and potential property losses. Walk through each room of your home and make note of these items, paying particular attention to tall, heavy, or expensive objects such as bookcases, home electronics, appliances (including water heaters), and items hanging from walls or ceilings. Secure these items with flexible fasteners, such as nylon straps, or with closed hooks, or by relocating them away from beds and seating, to lower shelves, or to cabinets with latched doors. Ensure that plumbers have installed flexible connectors on all gas appliances.

Check for Hazards in the Home

  • Make sure shelves are secure and designed with latching doors or raised edges to prevent objects from falling.
  • Top-heavy furniture and equipment must be bolted to walls or floor.
  • Be sure to store your breakables and heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Overhead lights, heavy artwork, and mirrors need to be anchored.
  • Be sure to store flammable liquids in flammable liquids storage cabinets
  • Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt

Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors

  • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
  • Against an inside wall.
  • Away from glass that could shatter or heavy bookcases or furniture that could fall over.

Have Disaster Supplies on Hand

Preparedness Resources