Crisis Protocol: Earthquake


  1. An earthquake is a vibratory or undulating movement of a portion of the earth's crust.
  2. Aftershock is a secondary tremor that follows the initial earthquake. Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks, and even months following an earthquake. Damaged buildings may be destroyed by aftershocks following the main quake.


Before an earthquake

  • Know the safe places in your office and building to take cover.
  • Know how to protect yourself while taking shelter
  • Wait in your safe place until the shaking stops, then check to see if you are hurt.
  • Be on the lookout for fires.
  • If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, as a precaution use the stairs, not the elevator.
  • If you are outside in an earthquake, stay outside. Move away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Crouch down and cover your head.
  • Inform faculty, students, guests, and caregivers of the safe place in your room or office.
  • Discuss earthquakes with your employees and students.

During an earthquake - remain calm


  1. Drop, cover, and HOLD ON.
  2. Seek refuge in a doorway or under a desk or table until the emergency is over.
  3. Stay away from glass windows, shelves and heavy equipment.
  4. After the initial shock, evaluate the immediate area.
  5. Prepare for an after shock (second tremor).
  6. Call the Department of Public Safety from your current location.
  7. If an emergency exists, activate building alarm.
  8. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.
  9. Assist persons with mobility difficulty in exiting the building.
  10. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
  12. Once outside, proceed to the Gathering Point identified for your building.
  13. Keep streets, fire lanes, hydrant areas and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and personnel.
  14. DO NOT return to the building until you are told to do so by the Department of Public Safety or University official.
  15. The Building Coordinator will take attendance and assist in accounting for all building occupants.
  16. If requested, assist emergency crews as much as necessary.
  17. A campus emergency command post may be set up near the emergency site. Keep clear of the command post unless you have official business.


  1. If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines.
  2. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops.
  3. If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location
  4. Stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
  5. After the initial shock, evaluate the immediate area.
  6. Call the Department of Public Safety from your current location.
  7. Prepare for the after shock (second tremor).

After an earthquake

  • Check yourself for injuries.
  • Protect yourself from further danger by putting on available long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves.
  • After you have taken care of yourself, help injured or trapped persons.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires if trained to do so. Eliminate fire hazards.
  • Leave the gas on at the main valve, unless you smell gas or think it is leaking.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately and carefully.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously.
  • Inspect your area for damage. Assist in getting everyone out if the building is unsafe.
  • Help others who may require special assistance.
  • Listen to a portable, battery-operated radio (or television) for updated emergency information and instructions.
  • Expect aftershocks.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines, and stay out of damaged areas.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to inspect your area.
  • Avoid smoking inside buildings.
  • When entering buildings, use extreme caution.
  • Check for damage to utility services (gas leaks, electrical system, sewage and water line).

Portions of this information taken from NEHRP (National Earthquakes Hazard Reduction Program), Los Angeles City Fire Department Earthquake preparedness handbook, and American Red Cross.