A note to our pros about Coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn More

Disaster Preparedness

How to Ensure Employee Safety During an Earthquake

Usually, you’ll have little to no warning that an earthquake is going to hit. Here’s a look at how you should react once the shaking begins, whether you’re in the office, on the job or at home. 

If you’re inside: Drop, cover and hold on.

  • Move as little as possible. Most injuries during an earthquake occur because people try to move around, the Red Cross says. 
  • Protect your upper body, including your head. 
  • If you’re inside, make sure you stay there until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to leave. 
  • If you’re in bed when the earthquake hits, stay there. Curl up, hold on and cover your head.
  • If you have to leave your building, make sure to use the stairs instead of the elevators. This is because aftershocks, power outages and other damage can cause injury. 
  • If you notice the smell of gas, leave the area and move as far away as possible.
  • Before you leave the building, make sure there isn’t any debris that could fall on you. 
  • Oftentimes, smoke alarms and sprinkler systems go off in a building during an earthquake, even if there isn’t a fire. Stay alert. 

If you’re outside: Stay away from buildings, power lines, trees and streetlights. 

  • Find a clear spot where you can drop to the ground and stay until the shaking stops.
  • If you’re driving, pull over to a clear location. Stop the car. 
  • Stay away from bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible.
  • Remain in your car with your seatbelt on until the earthquake stops.
  • If a power line falls on your car, don’t try to leave the vehicle. Wait for help.
  • If you are in a mountainous area, or if there are unstable slopes or cliffs nearby, make sure to keep an eye out for falling rocks, landslides and other debris.
  • After the earthquake has stopped, drive on carefully. Make sure to avoid bridges and ramps that the shaking may have damaged.

Following an earthquake, expect potential aftershocks, landslides or a tsunami.

  • If you’re at work when the earthquake hits, the Red Cross says you should only return to your home when authorities say it’s safe to do so, and vice versa.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get any first aid that you need before you help anyone else. 
  • Look for and extinguish small fires, the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • If you feel an aftershock, make sure to drop, cover and hold on. Aftershocks can occur minutes, days, weeks or even months after an earthquake.

Related Resources