What to Do During and After an Earthquake

So you’ve created a business continuity plan, but do you know what to do when an earthquake hits?

React Safely

Although it is important to have a plan in case of emergency, it is more important to practice that plan. Through that practice you can condition yourself and your employees to react automatically and safely when they feel the first shake of the quake.

Drop, Cover and Hold

The drop, cover and hold on method is still the best way to protect yourself from injury.

  • Drop: Drop to the floor immediately.
  • Cover: Identify the closest piece of heavy furniture, such as a table or desk for shelter, and then cover your head and torso.
  • Hold: Grab the legs of the desk or table you are under to ensure you remain covered.

If there is no table or desk near you, do not run in to another room. Instead crouch in the inside corner of the room you’re in and cover your face and arms.

Doorways are no longer deemed safe harbour during an earthquake, as they cannot protect you from falling or flying objects.

It is also important not to run outside. Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is unstable, and there will be debris which could injure you.

After the Quake

  1. Check for dangers. Is there any obvious structural damage or are there any other potential hazards, which could cause imminent danger?
  2. Care for your team. Once you have ensured your own wellbeing, assess the safety of your team. Does anyone need medical attention?
  3. Find your emergency supply kit. Identify where the nearest kit is to you, and keep it with you until all dangers have been discounted.
  4. Check the utilities. Check the utilities and shut them off if there are signs of leaking. Use a flashlight; do not use matches in case of a gas leak.
  5. Don’t use the phone. Your emergency contact list should only be used once the disaster is over. Phone lines should be kept clear for true emergencies.
  6. Clean up. If hazardous materials have been spilt, carefully clean them up, to prevent ongoing dangers.
  7. Listen to instructions. Use a battery powered radio to listen for broadcast emergency instructions.
  8. Stay on Foot. Don’t use your car, except in extreme emergencies, to allow emergency vehicles access to do their job.
  9. Avoid dangerous areas. Avoid waterfront areas because of the threat of tsunamis and stay away from power lines in case they come down.
  10. Expect aftershocks. Once the first quake is over, you will likely feel less strong earthquakes, so be prepared to repeat the drop, cover, hold position and repeat this process.

For more information on what to do during and after an earthquake visit:

Get Prepared Portal from the Federal Government

BC’s Provincial Emergency Program