‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ When the Earth Shakes

shakeoutlogoDON’T FORGET: Southeast Missouri State University will participate in the Great Central U.S. Shakeout earthquake drill at 10:20 a.m. Oct. 19 in an effort to prepare faculty, staff and students to survive and recover from earthquakes. At this time, take the proper action – “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” These actions during an earthquake can save lives and reduce the risk of injury.

When it comes to disaster, there are simple things you can do to make yourself safer. Everyone, everywhere, should learn and practice what to do during an earthquake, whether at home, work, school or traveling. During the next big earthquake, and immediately after, is when your level of preparedness will make a difference in how you and others survive and can respond to emergencies.

Follow these steps:

DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.

COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand

  • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter
  • If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows)
  • Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs

HOLD ON until shaking stops

  • Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts
  • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands

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Why Drop, Cover, and Hold On? Earthquake Country Alliance’s special report explains why official rescue teams, emergency preparedness experts, and others recommend “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” as the best way, in most situations, to protect yourself during earthquake shaking.

The moment the ground stops shaking, it is important to take action quickly and safely. Check for injuries and damages that need immediate attention. Use your training in first aid to assist those in need. Look around your environment to identify any new hazards such as leaking gas lines, damage to the building, water or electric lines, or other things that may be dangerous, especially if there are aftershocks. Be prepared to report damage to city or county government.

REMEMBER: It is important to think about what you will do to protect yourself, wherever you are, when the earth begins to shake. What if you are driving, in a theater, in bed, at the beach, etc.?

  • Persons with disabilities: See www.earthquakecountry.org/disability/ for recommendations for people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or are unable to drop to the ground and get up again without assistance.
  • Indoors: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass. However, do not try to move more than five to seven feet before getting on the ground. Do not go outside during shaking! The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to break away. If seated and unable to drop to the floor: bend forward, Cover your head with your arms, and Hold On to your neck with both hands.
  • In bed: Do not get out of bed. Lie face down to protect vital organs, and Cover your head and neck with a pillow, keeping your arms as close to your head as possible, while you Hold On to your head and neck with both hands until the shaking stops. You are less likely to be injured by fallen and broken objects by staying where you are.
  • In a high-rise: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.
  • In a classroom: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Laboratories or other settings may require special considerations to ensure safety. Students should also be taught what to do at home or other locations.
  • In a store: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Getting next to a shopping cart, beneath clothing racks, or within the first level of warehouse racks may provide extra protection. For more details, download a simple PDF fact sheet about Earthquake Safety in Stores.
  • Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards. Then Drop, Cover, and Hold On. This protects you from any objects that may be thrown from the side, even if nothing is directly above you.
  • 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 stops, then proceed carefully by avoiding fallen debris, cracked or shifted pavement, and emergency vehicles. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
  • In a stadium or theater: Drop to the ground in front of your seat or lean over as much as possible, then Cover your head with your arms (as best possible), and Hold On to your neck with both hands until the shaking stops. Then walk out slowly, watching for anything that could fall during aftershocks.
  • Near the shore: Follow instructions above for your particular location. Then as soon as the shaking subsides so you are able to stand, walk quickly to high ground or inland as a tsunami may arrive soon. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.
  • Below a dam: Follow instructions above for your particular location. Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you live downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan for getting to high ground.

For more information about these steps and more, visit http://www.earthquakecountry.org.

For more information about the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, visit http://www.shakeout.org/centralus/.