According to experts at the University of Utah, most earthquakes last 10 to 30 seconds, which means you won't have time to move once an earthquake begins. Even if you do, moving may not be safe. Nonetheless, it's worth emphasizing that the best location to be during a quake is in an open field where nothing can fall on you. If you're in a building, try to find something sturdy to stand on.
The most important thing is to stay away from damaged buildings and any other potential hazards such as fallen power lines.
Even if you don't feel your home shaking, check all window and door frames for damage. If they look old or worn out, consider having them replaced. Window and door frames are the parts of the house that touch the most, so they're the ones most likely to need replacement if they're damaged.
Check with family and friends to see if they're okay too. If there are no signs of life outside your home, then call 911 to report the damage and let everyone know that you're fine but others aren't.
After the initial shock has passed, go around your house and make sure everything still stands. If it doesn't, contact someone who knows about these things and ask them to help you assess the damage.
If you're lucky enough to have insurance, file a claim immediately. Damage due to earthquake activity is usually covered by your policy.
After that, keep yourself protected. Following an earthquake, there may be major concerns such as building damage, leaky gas and water lines, or broken electrical lines. If you are in a damaged building, immediately exit and walk away from it. Enter any damaged structures at your own risk. Check on neighbors too.
Additionally, beware of fallen power lines. They can be dead batteries waiting to shock you. Stay away from them! Also stay away from any rubble that may have been thrown up by the earthquake itself. It's best to wait for emergency crews to clear away dangerous material.
Finally, watch out for signs of gas leaks. Even small amounts of gas leaking into your home could cause serious harm or death if you weren't aware of it. Turn off the main valve at the entrance of your house and call someone who knows how to repair this type of system to come and check things out for you.
These are just some of the many dangers that you might face after an earthquake. If you are in need of emergency help, call 911 immediately. Otherwise, stay safe and listen for sirens later in response to other needs around you.
Attempting to move when the ground is shaking puts you in danger. Earthquakes happen without notice and can be so powerful that you can't flee or crawl; you'll most likely be knocked to the ground. It is preferable to get down before the earthquake hits and seek cover nearby, or to use your arms and hands to protect your head and neck.
If you aren't able to escape the area or avoid these buildings, try to find a high point in the room with you in order to avoid being hit by falling objects or splintered wood. Stay away from windows! They may break causing more damage to come your way.
Check on those who are unable to care for themselves. If there's no one around to take care of them, call 9-1-1 or another local health facility/hotline to make sure they're okay.
After the quake, see if anyone needs help getting back on their feet. Offer any tools that you have in order to assist them with their recovery process.
Finally, take care of yourself. You've been through a lot and need to give yourself time to recover.