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How To Survive an Earthquake

Know what to do – and what _not_ to do – if a big quake hits.


  • Step 1: Extinguish all flames and cigarettes. If you're indoors, move away from windows and any unsecured tall, rolling, or heavy furniture and equipment.
  • Step 2: Drop to your knees and curl up; this minimizes injuries by making yourself a smaller target. Next, cover your head, neck, and chest by crawling under something sturdy, like a table. Finally, hold on to your cover. If there's nothing around you to scoot under, cover your head with your hands. Stay put until the tremors stop.
  • TIP: Forget the old advice about standing in a doorway; in most modern buildings, doorways are no stronger than any other area.
  • Step 3: If you're outdoors, get away from buildings, walls, power lines, and trees. If that's not possible, get inside a building. The worst place to be standing is next to a building, where you could be hit by falling debris.
  • Step 4: If you're driving, ease off the accelerator and come to a stop slowly. Avoid getting stuck on or under an overpass or bridge. Place the car in park, and remain inside until the tremors stop.
  • Step 5: When the shaking stops, put on sturdy shoes before you move around. If you have work gloves and a helmet or hard hat, put those on, too.
  • Step 6: Exit the building or car. Check to see if anyone is injured. Watch out for hazards that might fall from overhead or that might be on the ground in front of you.
  • Step 7: Once back in your home, don't light matches, a lighter, or your stove until you're sure you have no gas leaks. Use a flashlight to check for broken pipes, cracks in walls, loose light fixtures, and damaged electrical wires. Open closet and cabinet doors carefully; contents may have shifted.
  • Step 8: Anticipate aftershocks, which can continue for days after an earthquake.
  • FACT: Geologists estimate a 20 to 40 percent chance of a major earthquake hitting New York City by 2056.

You Will Need

  • A safe place
  • Sturdy shoes
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A flashlight
  • Work gloves (optional)
  • A helmet or hard hat (optional)

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