When the Ground Shakes: During a Disaster

Produced by Seattle Office of Emergency Management


The best strategy to survive an earthquake is to Drop, Cover, and Hold.

  1. Drop: Get down on the ground. If you don't put yourself there, the earthquake will--and it'll hurt!
  2. Cover: Find a sturdy and secure source of shelter, such as a desk. (Note: the old advice of finding the nearest doorway is no longer recommended. Due to building code updates, the doorframe is no longer the strongest part of building structures; the door will swing back and forth as the ground shakes, and it will hit you; running anywhere, including to the nearest doorway, during an earthquake is a surefire way to break a leg--just drop!)
  3. Hold: Hold onto your shelter, since you and it both will be moving along with the ground!

Can't find something to drop, cover, and hold under? No problem. Your options are to go Beneath, Beside, or Between.

  1. Beneath: Drop, Cover, and Hold
  2. Beside: Find an inside wall, the corner of a room, or a structural column. Place your back against it, and slide down into a tight crouch until your bottom touches the ground. Place your head on your knees/thighs, and cover the back of your head with your hands/arms.
  3. Between: Get low between rows of chairs (e.g. in a theater), between a couch and a coffee table, or two other objects that will be taller than you curled up and will therefore create a virtual tabletop to protect you from large falling objects.

Immediately following an event:

  1. Check yourself: You need to ensure your own safety before helping (and in order to help) others.
  2. Check your family: If they're not in the same location as you, text your out-of-area contact to check in.
  3. Check your home or place of business for damage: If the structure is no longer safe, evacuate, and lead others out if you're able.
  4. Dress for safety: Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, gloves, eye protection, and clothes appropriate for the weather (in our region, that means layers!).
  5. Go to your neighborhood/workplace meeting place (i.e. Hub Site): Don't have one yet? Talk to your family, neighbors, and co-workers today!

For outside information, you can tune into KIRO AM 710 or KIRO FM 97.3 on a battery-powered radio for the latest updates and/or instructions. The City also will post updates on their website and Twitter.