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Earthquakes can happen at any time without warning. When they do, reacting quickly and correctly can be the difference between life and death. Here, we'll cover the basics of earthquake safety, including what to do during and immediately after a quake occurs.

  • Drop, cover, and hold. Particularly if you are inside a building, this set of actions is the best way to protect yourself. Drop down to your hands and knees to keep from being knocked off your feet. Look for sturdy furniture (such as a desk or table) to cover If none is available, get as close as possible to an interior wall or low furniture that won't fall on you, and shield your head and neck with your arms. Once there, hold on until the shaking stops.

    If you are inside, don't run outside or into other rooms during an earthquake. Stay away from windows and outside walls as much as possible.
  • If you are outside, stay outside. If you find yourself outdoors when an earthquake occurs, move away from buildings, trees, utility poles, and fuel/gas lines. Try to find an open area and stay low to the ground. You're most likely to be hurt by falling debris or the collapse of outer walls of buildings.
  • If you are in a crowded place, stay put. If you are in a public place with lots of other people, avoid rushing outside—this can cause a stampede, which can exacerbate your danger. Try to move away from anything that might fall on you, and seek cover if it's available. If not, get down and cover your head. Stay where you are until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a car, stay in the car. If you are driving while the earthquake begins, pull over as soon as possible and set your emergency brake. Try to avoid stopping underneath a telephone pole or bridge, and stay in your vehicle until the shaking stops.
  • Get away from the shore. Severe earthquakes (those with intense shaking that lasts more than 20 seconds) can cause a tsunami. If you are near the ocean, evacuate inland or to higher ground as soon as possible after the earthquake is over. You want to be at least 2 miles away from the shore, or at least 100 feet above sea level.

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