When an earthquake strikes, it’s time to act quickly and find cover. Old advice, such as go to the nearest doorway or run outside is bad advice, according to official rescue teams from the United States and other countries. It’s considered dangerous and is not recommended.

The safest, most effective response during an earthquake is Drop, Cover, and Hold On:

  • DROP to the hands and knees.
  • COVER the head and neck with one arm and hand. If possible crawl under a nearby table or desk, or next to an interior wall away from windows.
  • HOLD ON to the table or desk with one hand until the shaking stops.

Of course, not everyone will have access to a table or desk to crawl under during an earthquake. What if you employ people with disabilities? What if you’re outside? What if you’re driving? Drop, Cover, and Hold On has you covered in these and other situations.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On for people with disabilities.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On for people with disabilities.

What to do during an earthquake if you have a disability

For those using a wheel chair, lock the device, lean forward and cover your head, then hold on. If you use a walker with a seating pad, you’ll also need to lock the device, then sit down on the seating pad, and cover your head. Click here to see more earthquake resources for people with disabilities.

What to do if you are outside during an earthquake

Stay outside. Drop to the ground as soon as the shaking starts, then crawl only a short distance to a clear area, away from trees, power lines, signs, or any other hazard. Injuries often occur because people try to move more than a few feet during earthquakes.

What to do when driving during an earthquake

If you’re driving, immediately pull over to the curb or shoulder and stop the car; then set the parking brake. Stay away from overpasses, bridges, power lines, or any other hazard, as these can fall on top of your vehicle. Stay inside the car until the shaking stops. Once the earthquake is over, proceed with caution and avoid fallen debris, cracked roads, and emergency vehicles.

What to do if you are in a store during an earthquake

Drop to the ground right away. If you can, crawl next to a shopping cart or under a clothing rack for cover. Hold on as best you can. This fact sheet provides more information on riding out an earthquake in a store.

You can find information on what to do in other specific situations on the Earthquake Country Alliance website. But whatever situation you are in, remember Drop or Lock, Cover, and Hold On–three simple steps to protect yourself during an earthquake.

The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.