Blog: With So Much in the News, Don’t Forget…

Earthquake Guide

With inaugurations, drought, protests, storms and more in the news, we seemed to have forgotten that about 23 years ago last week was the Northridge earthquake. The 6.7 quake killed 16 people and damage was reported up to 85 miles away.

We are “way” overdue for an earthquake and we all live near a fault line. Now is the time to prepare — not afterward.


What to do before an earthquake:

• Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries at home. Learn first aid.

• Be prepared for up to 72 hours afterward with food, water and supplies.

• Learn how to turn off the gas, water and electricity.

• Make up a plan of where to meet your family and neighbors after an earthquake.

• Don’t leave heavy objects on shelves (they’ll fall during a quake). Anchor heavy furniture, cupboards and appliances to the walls or floor.


What to do during an earthquake:

•Stay calm. If you’re indoors, stay inside. If you’re outside, stay outside.

• If you’re indoors, stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway or crawl under heavy furniture (a desk or table). Stay away from windows and outside doors. 

•If you’re outdoors, stay in the open away from power lines or anything that might fall. Stay away from buildings — things might fall off the building.

• Don’t use matches, candles or any flame. Broken gas lines and fire don’t mix!

• If you’re in a car, stop the car and stay inside the car until the earthquake stops. Don’t use elevators — they can get stuck.


What to do after an earthquake:

• Check yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid for anyone who needs it.

• Check water, gas and electric lines for damage. If any are damaged, shut off the valves. Do not touch any downed lines. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell it, open all the windows and doors, leave immediately and report it to the authorities.

• Turn on the radio. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency.

• Stay out of damaged buildings.

• Be careful around broken glass and debris. Wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet. Be careful of chimneys (they may fall on you).

• Stay away from beaches. Tsunamis sometimes hit after the ground has stopped shaking.

• Stay away from damaged areas.

• If you’re at school or work, follow the emergency plan or the instructions of the person in charge.

• Expect aftershocks.

Remember, it’s not a matter of “if” an earthquake will strike but “when.” 


Visit for additional earthquake preparedness information. Contact your local fire department or community Emergency Services Director for additional information.