What to do in an earthquake

Last updated 17:07 20/01/2014

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  • Those inside buildings are advised to move no more than a few steps, drop, cover and hold. Remain indoors until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in an elevator you must also drop, cover and hold. When the shaking stops, try and get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so.
  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, move no more than a few steps away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold.
  • Those near the beach or coast should drop, cover and hold but move to higher ground as soon as the shaking stops, in case a tsunami follows the quake.
  • If you are driving, pull over and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling debris or landslides.


  • Listen to your local radio stations as emergency management officials will be broadcasting the most appropriate advice for your community and situation.
  • Expect to feel aftershocks.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid if necessary. Help others if you can.
  • Be aware that electricity supply could be cut, and fire alarms and sprinkler systems can go off in buildings during an earthquake even if there is no fire. Check for, and extinguish, small fires.
  • If you are in a damaged building, try to get outside and find a safe, open place. Use the stairs, not the elevators.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.
  • Only use the phone for short essential calls to keep the lines clear for emergency calls.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window, get everyone out quickly and turn off the gas if you can. If you see sparks, broken wires or evidence of electrical system damage, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if it is safe to do so.
  • Keep your animals under your direct control as they can become disorientated. Take measures to protect your animals from hazards, and to protect other people from your animals.
  • If your property is damaged, take notes and photographs for insurance purposes. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company as soon as possible.

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  • Torch with spare batteries or a self-charging torch.
  • Radio with spare batteries.
  • Wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats and strong outdoor shoes.
  • First-aid kit and essential medicines.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Pet supplies.
  • Toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet.
  • Face and dust masks.
  • Food and water for at least three days: Non-perishable food (canned or dried food); food, formula and drinks for babies and small children; water for drinking - at least 3 litres per person, per day; water for washing and cooking; a primus or gas barbecue to cook on; can opener.
  • Don't just stock it and forget about it. Remember:
  • Check and replace food and water every year. Consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water for longer emergencies like a pandemic.
  • Check batteries every three months. Battery-powered lighting is the safest and easiest - as candles can tip over in earthquake aftershocks or wind. Do not use kerosene lamps, which require ventilation and are not designed for indoor use.

Source: Civil Defence website, Getthru

- Stuff

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