Earthquakes

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Emergency Management training in action

Washington is one of 16 states considered at risk for damaging earthquakes. When a major tremor does strike, you will want to be prepared and know what to do during and after.

Illustrated Guides for Earthquakes

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Be Prepared

  • Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items.
  • Create a disaster plan including communication strategies with family and neighbors.
  • Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations.
  • Collect essential documents and buy insurance.

Seismic Retrofit

To better prepare your home to withstand the damaging effects of an earthquake, you can retrofit your home. This is a good idea, especially if your home was built prior to 1980. Seismic retrofitting involves reinforcing the framing, such as bolting walls to the foundation, and should be done by a licensed building contractor specializing in this work. 

Practice "Drop, Cover and Hold On"

Practice every year with the Great ShakeOut Drill on the third Thursday in October. Join millions of people worldwide who physically practice Drop, Cover and Hold On in an earthquake drill. Research shows that repeated practice cuts response time in an emergency and increases your chance for survival.

During an Earthquake

Drop, cover and hold on!

Illustration of drop, cover, hold on

Drop where you are onto your hands and knees. Stay low and crawl to shelter. 
Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand. Get underneath a sturdy table or desk. Stay away from windows.
Hold on to your shelter until the shaking stops. Be ready to shift with it as it moves.

After an Earthquake

After a sizable earthquake, buildings may be damaged enough to be unsafe for occupancy. Warning signs are large visible cracks on walls or foundations, or buildings leaning at a slant. Be aware of anything loosened in the earthquake that can later fall from above, such as chimney bricks or interior fixtures. Broken gas lines are a fire and health hazard, so if you hear hissing or smell gas, evacuate to a safer building without damage.