If you’re at home during an earthquake, your first instincts need to be to get yourself and your family to safety. However, there is often little warning of when a quake is going to hit. Particularly intense earthquakes can even make walking from one part of your home to another difficult, and even life-threatening.
Here’s what you need to do during an earthquake.
If an earthquake hits and you’re indoors, you need to move to a safe part of the building. Depending on the intensity of the quake, this might be difficult. Should you be near a heavy desk, or something similarly sturdy and tall enough to hide under, get underneath it. This way, if parts of the roof or ceiling begin to fall, they’re more likely to bounce off the top of the desk or table than you.
If you’re in bed when an earthquake hits, cover your head with your hands and wait for the shaking to stop before getting out of bed. Believe it or not, you’re actually safer laying in bed than scrambling for cover in your home.
If you can, move to a part of the building that has a doorframe. These portions of buildings are the sturdiest, and most unlikely to collapse during an earthquake. When you get to the doorframe, brace yourself against it and sit down, offering a lower profile to any flying debris that could impact you.
Should you be outdoors when an earthquake hits, you’ll need to assess the situation. In an open area, with few buildings around, you’re actually quite safe, even during extreme earthquakes. The worst that can happen in an open area is that you are knocked off your feet. So, to stay safe, simply lie down in an open are to preclude the chance of being flung to the ground.
However, if you’re near a region with tall buildings or other structures, you need to move quickly. Try to get away from any tall buildings that could pose a threat of toppling over. Don’t get into a panic: move swiftly but decisively. If you are in a vehicle, be mindful of other drivers, and keep an eye on the road ahead to see if the quake is moving the asphalt.
Sometimes, the best option if you’re caught outside during an earthquake is to park your vehicle, get out, and hunker down in a safe area like a ditch or a similar low spot. This offers the smallest profile for falling debris.