What is an earthquake?
An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the Earth's surface. This shaking can cause buildings and bridges to collapse, disrupt gas, electric, and phone service; and sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires, and huge, destructive ocean waves or tsunamis.
What should I do during an earthquake?
The first thing you should do is drop, cover, and hold on! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. It is very dangerous to try to leave a building during an earthquake because objects can fall on you. If you are in a bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways. If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops. If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking has stopped. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you're sure it's safe to exit. Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake. If you are in a coastal area, move to higher ground. If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris that could be loosened by the earthquake.
What should I do after the earthquake?
Check yourself for injuries. Protect yourself from further danger by putting on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves. After you have taken care of yourself, help injured or trapped persons. Look for and extinguish small fires. Eliminate fire hazards. Leave the gas on at the main valve, unless you smell gas or think it's leaking. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately and carefully. You should inspect your home for damages and get everyone one if your home is unsafe. A very important thing to do is to listen to a portable battery-operated radio for updated emergency information and instructions. You should definitely watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas. You should also avoid smoking inside the buildings, because smoking in confined areas can cause fires.