Pacific Disaster Center Fostering Disaster Resilient Communities  

Earthquakes

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    Earthquakes can cause significant loss of life, extensive damage to property and the environment, and extreme economic impacts when they occur.  In fact, the ten largest earthquakes in the past century claimed over 1.5 million lives and caused more than $500 billion USD in damage according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). Other hazards can be triggered by earthquakes, which makes knowing what to do, being prepared, and staying informed all critical to disaster readiness for seismic hazards.

    Related Hazards

    • Ground shaking and ground displacement
    • Landslides and debris falls
    • Fire from broken gas or power lines
    • Flooding from ruptured dams or levees
    • Tsunami (generated by undersea earthquakes)


    Precautions

    • Have a disaster supply kit ready in case of evacuation, including a radio and batteries.
    • Prepare a family communication plan.
    • Know how to turn off water and gas supplies to your home.
    • Inspect your home for potential earthquake hazards; secure top-heavy furniture to the wall and place heaviest objects on bottom shelves.
       

    What to Do During an Earthquake

    • If you are inside, seek shelter under a sturdy desk or table and hold on. Stay away from windows and glass fixtures. Remain inside until the shaking stops.
    • Do not use elevators.
    • If you are outside, stay away from power lines and objects that can fall, such as streetlights, buildings, and trees.
    • If you are in a vehicle, pull off the road but do not stop on or under bridges, overpasses, or tunnels.


    For more Information

    USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

    National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP)

    Can Earthquakes Be Predicted?

    Although some major earthquakes are preceded by foreshocks, there is currently no reliable method to accurately predict the time, location, and magnitude of a quake. However, the United Nations Environmental Programme/Global Resource Information Database provides information on global earthquake probability and intensity. View earthquake intensity zones.