Earthquakes – Mitigation (Actions Before, During, After)


Mitigation is deciding on which actions to take before, during, and after the next disaster — to reduce human and financial consequences later by analyzing, reducing, and insuring against risk.

The following actions are some important recommendations that you can follow through each stage of an Earthquake emergency:[1] [2]

Actions Before: Determine Risk, Increase Knowledge, Safeguard, Plan

General All-Hazard Actions:

  • Determine the disaster risks in your locale and the hazards that accompany them.
  • Increase your knowledge about the emergency warning signals and alert notifications used in your community.
  • Instruct family members how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your house.
  • Make the necessary property preparations to reduce the damage from the hazard.
  • Acquire a backup generator in case of a prolonged power failure.
  • Check into insurance (property, health, life, and hazard type).
  • Make the necessary financial arrangements in case of a sudden evacuation and power outage that shuts down local ATMs and banks.
  • Organize important documents and records and store them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
  • Perform home inventory video taping and store tape in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
  • Develop an Emergency Communication Plan with evacuation plan and ask an out-of-state person to serve as the "family contact".
  • Assemble a shelter-in-place Emergency Supplies Kit.
  • Assemble a mobile Emergency Supplies Kit that can serve as a “grab and go” bag?
  • Get a family member trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Make the necessary preparations and arrangements for pets, seniors, and the disabled.
  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans of your family member's employment building, school, day care center, or nursing home.

Hazard Specific Actions:

  • Identify potential dangers in your home by conducting an earthquake hazard hunt. Secure your household contents with earthquake safety products.
  • Identify safe places in each room.
  • Locate safe places outdoors.
  • Ensure all family members know how to respond after an earthquake.
  • Be aware of a possible tsunami if you live in a coastal area.

Actions During: Safety Basics, Evacuation, Shelter in Place

If indoors:

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Don not use elevators.

If outdoors:

  • Stay outdoors and move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle:

  • Stop quickly, stay in vehicle, move to a clear area away from buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris:

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if possible. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Actions After: Get Disaster Relief, Clean-up, Salvage

  • Be prepared for after shocks.
  • Help injured or trapped persons and give first aid where appropriate.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings and return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Check for injuries. Render first aid. Do not move seriously injured victims unless they are in immediate danger. Do not use the telephone immediately unless there is a serious injury, fire or other emergency. Hunt for hazards.
  • Check for other hazards and control them (fire, chemical spills, toxic fumes and possible collapse).
  • Check utilities (water, gas, electric). If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source.
  • Check for other hazards and control them (fire, chemical spills, toxic fumes and possible collapse).
  • Check building for cracks and damage, including roof, chimneys, and foundation.
  • Check food and water supplies.
  • Listen to a battery operated radio for emergency broadcasts/announcements, news reports, and instructions.
  • Plan for evacuation in case events make this necessary. Leave written messages for other family members or searchers.
  • Use gloves, wear heavy shoes, and have adequate and appropriate clothing available.