Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On


Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the earth shakes.

Learn what to do during an earthquake, whether you're at home, at work, at school or just out and about. Taking the proper actions, such as "Drop, Cover, and Hold On", can save lives and reduce your risk of death or injury. During earthquakes, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. Be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.

What if you are shopping in the grocery store, or in your car, or outside - what are the safest actions during ground shaking? The answer is simple - Drop, Cover, and Hold On - yet some of these locations may require additional information to keep in mind, such as what to do if you do not have something to take cover under. Step 5 will provide all the answers!

Thoroughly review the information in this Step 5, consider what to do in different locations, then practice. It is through actually practicing the physical actions of Drop, Cover, and Hold On that we build 'muscle memory' to help us respond correctly when the shaking starts. An excellent way to practice how to survive an earthquake is to participate in The Great ShakeOut. Rehearse quake-safe actions with millions of others. It takes 1 minute to practice and is free! Learn more at www.ShakeOut.org.

Also visit our interactive, graphic site that shows you what to do to survive an earthquake at www.DropCoverHoldOn.org

The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse. To stay away from this danger zone, stay inside if you are inside and outside if you are outside.





If you are...

Indoors: Drop, cover, and hold on. Drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. Be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops. If you are not near a desk or table, drop to the floor against the interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass. Do not go outside!

In bed: If you are in 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.

In a high-rise: Drop, cover, and hold on. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.

Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.

Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.

In a stadium or theater: Stay at your seat and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don't try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.

Near the shore: Drop, cover and hold on until the shaking stops. Estimate how long the shaking lasts. If severe shaking lasts 20 seconds or more, immediately evacuate to high ground as a tsunami might have been generated by the earthquake. Move inland 3 kilometers (2 miles) or to land that is at least 30 meters (100 feet) above sea level immediately. Don't wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.

Below a dam: Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you live downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan.

Myth #5: Don't be fooled!

"HEAD FOR THE DOORWAY."

An enduring earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. True- if you live in an old, unreinforced adobe house. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. You are safer under a table.

PREPARE

  1. Secure Your Space

  2. Plan to be Safe

  3. Organize Disaster Supplies

  4. Minimize Financial Hardship

SURVIVE

  1. Drop, Cover, and
    Hold On

  2. Improve Safety

RECOVER

  1. Reconnect and Restore
©2014 SCEC Southern California Earthquake Center @ USC