In October, over one million people in Washington State will participate in the Great ShakeOut. The main goal of the ShakeOut is to get Washingtonians prepared for major earthquakes. During the next big earthquake, and immediately after, is when your level of preparedness will make a difference in how you and others survive.

While earthquake hazard varies from region to region, most of Washington is prone to earthquakes. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work or at school. Are you prepared to survive and recover quickly?

Look around you now, before an earthquake. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly. DO NOT run outside! Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris or glass. Running outside is also dangerous, as glass, bricks, or other building components may be falling.

You cannot tell from the initial shaking if an earthquake will suddenly become intense…so always Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!

  • DROP to the ground
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to your shelter and be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops.

Drop Cover Hold on

If you have difficulty getting safely to the floor on your own, get as low as possible, protect your head and neck, and move away from windows or other items that can fall on you. If there is no table or desk near you, drop to the ground and then if possible move to an inside corner of the room. Be in a crawling position to protect your vital organs and be ready to move if necessary, and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in Washington you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.

If you in a low lying coastal area, immediately move inland to higher ground because a tsunami could follow the earthquake. Do not return until local officials announce it is safe to reenter coastal areas.

If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop and Cover your head and neck with your hands and  arms. Stay there until the shaking stops.

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.

If you are 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.