What should you do if an earthquake hits?

What should you do if an earthquake hits?
NYPD Emergency service unit officers arrive in Foley Square in New York after the federal and state buildings that surround it were evacuated on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 following an earthquake. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The earthquake risk is relatively high in the Pacific Northwest, but as Tuesday’s East Coast quake proved, temblors can strike anytime, anywhere.

The question is do you know what to do when a quake hits? You might have heard that you should get in a doorway, but is that really a good idea?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, you only need to get in a doorway during a quake if you live in an old, unreinforced adobe house. In modern homes, doorways are no stronger than other parts of the house, plus the door itself could swing and hit you.

You are safer ducking and covering under a sturdy piece of furniture, according to the USGS.

The earthquake experts also have answers to other frequently asked questions:

What should I do during an earthquake?

  • If you are indoors, stay there. Get under a desk or table and hang onto it. Otherwise, move into a hallway or get against an interior wall. Stay out of the kitchen and stay away from windows, fireplaces and heavy furniture.
  • If you are outside, get into the open. Move away from buildings, power lines, chimneys or anything that could fall on you.
  • If you are driving, carefully move your car out of traffic and stop. Do not stop under a bridge, overpass, trees, light posts or power lines. Stay inside your car until the shaking stops.

What should I not do during an earthquake?

  • Do not turn on the gas if you have turned it off. Leave that for the gas company.
  • Do not use matches, lighters, camp stoves or electrical equipment until you are sure there is no gas leak.
  • Do not use your telephone except for a medical or fire emergency.
  • Do not expect firefighters, police or paramedics will be available to help you.

What should I do after an earthquake?

  • Check for injuries.
  • Put on sturdy shoes, if you can. It will help you avoid being hurt by broken glass or debris.
  • Check for hazards. Shut off gas and electricity in your home if you suspect a leak or if there is damage to wiring.
  • Check food and water supplies.
  • Clean up any spilled medicine, drugs or other harmful materials such as bleach, lye or gas.

What emergency supplies do I need?

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Adequate supply of medications for you and your family
  • Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlights with bulbs and batteries
  • Portable radio
  • Water for at least two weeks (One gallon per person per day)
  • Canned or packaged foods (Don’t forget the can opener)
  • Camp stove or barbecue
  • Waterproof, heavy-duty bags

More links from the USGS