What to do when Facing an Earthquake?

male under desk

Disasters can impact our lives, but I have found Earthquakes to be the disaster most feared.  With an Earthquake, we don’t know when the next one will happen, how it will impact our families.  There are so many unknowns, and that can be frightening. Being prepared and knowing what action to take will help provide you with peace of mind when facing an Earthquake.

Read on to find out what to do when facing an Earthquake so you and your family can take action!

When the earthquake strikes – What do you do?

Most injuries in an earthquake happen when people do the wrong thing. Do you know what to do when the floor beneath your feet starts moving? If you’re like most people, human nature takes over, and your first instinct is to flee to safety and run outside of your building to safety.  What most people in Canada and the US don’t realize, that is NOT what you do!  You are putting yourself in greater danger.

A living room damaged by an earthquake
A living room damaged by an earthquake

When the ground is moving and shaking, that is when unsecured items in your home or workplace will become projectiles and shoot across the room, damaging whatever is in the way. Those heavy bookcases you always meant to secure topple to the ground throwing books and knickknacks everywhere, damaging whatever is nearby. If you are trying to flee to safety, you are putting yourself in greater danger.

Proper planning and knowing what to do when facing an Earthquake can make a significant difference.  Read on to learn how you can be better protected when faced with an Earthquake!

Earthquake – DROP, COVER & HOLD ON

DROP, COVER & HOLD ON must become second nature to all of us living in areas that earthquakes can impact.  This is what will protect us in an earthquake. It’s a simple process to follow:

  1. Drop down and get underneath your desk or heavy table, protect your head and hold on until the shaking stops.
  2. Once the shaking has stopped, count to 60 and then check your surroundings and make sure nothing has fallen and shattered into a  million pieces that could injure you or your family.
  3. If the area is free and clear of debris and broken glass, then get out from your safe place and check on your family.  If needed, evacuate your home or building.

    what to do when facing an Earthquake

Protecting our Kids in an Earthquake

A challenge for parents is to resist the urge to run down the hall to check on the kids. As a parent, we will do whatever it takes to protect our kids from any danger. It is critical that you first Drop Cover, Hold On to protect yourself. Think of putting on your Oxygen Mask in an airplane so you can better help others; this is a similar situation.

If you are trying to run down the hallway to your kids as the earthquake is shaking your home,  what happens if you are knocked unconscious by falling debris? Who will be able to help your kids then?

Baby playing on floor
small child playing with toys

Having said that, if your home is adequately prepared with heavy items secured correctly in place and your kid’s rooms and crib area is safe, your kids should not be injured by shooting debris. To not run down the hall to our kids is easier said than done – I fully understand.

An Earthquake Song?

For kids old enough to get under a table or desk have them select an Earthquake Song.  This will be the song they sing when safely under a desk or table.  To focus on a song can be easier than counting to 60 when facing an earthquake.

Our Family Earthquake song was Barney the Purple Dinosaur. If you hear them singing, this will give you peace of mind knowing they are safe and also helps keep their minds off what is happening.

Practice by yelling EARTHQUAKE, have them go to their safe spot in each room and then sing, and when an earthquake happens, they will know what to do.

No Table, No Desk  – What then?

You must plan some alternatives; if unable to get under a desk or table, go against an interior wall and drop cover and brace yourself against the wall covering your head.  Do not try to run into another room; you could find yourself in greater danger as you try to get there.

Extra Earthquake Tip: 

shoes under bed
shoes under the bed ready for an earthquake

Keep a pair of shoes upside down under your bed along with a flashlight.  Broken debris could be on the floor and if the power is out, you may not be able to see it. Having shoes within easy reach can prevent unnecessary injury to your feet.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Go through each room in your home to determine what action you can take when facing an earthquake.  For me – I am hoping I am in bed.  I would stay in bed, put my head under the pillow, wait for the shaking to stop.  Once the shaking has stopped I would count to 60.  I would then determine my next move, which hopefully, it’s to roll over and go back to sleep!

Practice makes perfect, and we are talking about life safety.  I would encourage you and your family to practice what to do in an Earthquake.  Next time you are out with your family ask what they would do if there were an earthquake right now.    Thinking it through, identifying what action you would take will help you make a better decision when facing an Earthquake.

Stay Safe and Be Prepared!

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