Earthquake Safety Tips

Tips to Protect Yourself

Movement of the ground seldom is the actual cause of death or injury. Most casualties result from partial building collapses, falling objects and debris, like toppling chimneys, falling bricks, ceiling plaster, and light fixtures. Many of these conditions can be prevented by taking a few steps now to prepare.

Before an Earthquake

  • Bolt to walls anything that might topple like top-heavy shelves, appliances, and furniture.
  • Do not hang plants in heavy pots that could swing free of hooks.
  • Keep on hand a flashlight, a portable radio with fresh batteries, a first aid-kit, a fire extinguisher (Class C is designed to use safely on any type of fire, including electrical, grease and gas), a three-day supply of fresh water, non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods, and an adjustable wrench for turning off gas and water.
  • Locate master switches and shut-off valves for all utilities and know how to turn them off. Your local utility company can show you.
  • Place heavier objects on lower shelves to prevent breakage and personal injury.
  • Strap your water heater to wall studs with metal plumbing tape to prevent broken pipes and fires.

During an Earthquake

  • Do not use the elevator.
  • If driving, move away from overpasses, stop slowly in a safe place, and stay in your vehicle. Stay off bridges. Listen to the radio.
  • If in a high-rise building stay in the building on the same floor. Get under a desk and stay away from outside walls and windows.
  • If indoors, crouch under a desk or heavy table or brace yourself in a doorway. Stay away from windows or brick masonry (like fireplaces), bookcases, china cabinets, and mirrors.
  • If outdoors, stand away from buildings, trees, and power lines.
  • Stay calm and stay put.

After an Earthquake

  • Be prepared for aftershocks, which can further damage weakened structures.
  • Check for building damage and potential safety hazards – like cracks around chimneys or foundations.
  • Check for injuries and apply necessary first-aid.
  • Check gas, water, electrical lines, and appliances for damage. If you smell gas or see a broken line, shut off the main valve. Do not switch on the gas or electricity again until the power company checks your home. Do not light matches, use any open flame or turn on electrical switches or appliances until you are certain that there are no gas leaks.
  • Check to see that sewage lines are intact before you use the toilet. Plug bathtub and sink drains to prevent sewage backup.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids.
  • Do not use the telephone except in an emergency.
  • Listen to the radio for public safety instructions.
  • Wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet from broken glass.

Reprinted from "Earthquakes in Missouri," by the Missouri Department of Public Safety and published by Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

2013 Central US Shakeout