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Unlike other emergencies, the procedures to deal with an earthquake are much less specific. Since earthquake magnitude cannot be predetermined, everyone must initiate emergency precautions within a few seconds after the initial tremor is felt, assuming the worst possible case.

The best earthquake instruction is to take precautions before the earthquake (e.g., secure or remove objects above you that could fall during an earthquake).


  • Take cover.
  • Call 911 or use Emergency Call Box if emergency assistance is necessary.
  • Evacuate if alarm sounds or if told to do so by emergency personnel.

During the earthquake:

  • Remain calm and ACT, don’t react.
  • If indoors, seek refuge under a desk or table or in a doorway and huld on. Stay away from windows, shelves, and heavy equipment.
  • If outdoors, move quickly away from buildings, utility pules, overhead wires, and other structures. CAUTION: Avoid downed power or utility lines as they may be energized. Do not attempt to enter buildings until you are advised to do so by the proper authorities.
  • If in an automobile, stop in the safest place available, preferably an open area away from power lines and trees. Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle for the shelter it provides.

After the initial shock:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks. Aftershocks are usually less intense than the main quake, but can cause further structural damage.
  • Protect yourself at all times.
  • Evaluate the situation and call 911 for emergency assistance, if necessary.
  • Do not use lanterns, torches, lighted cigarettes, or open flames, since gas leaks could be present.
  • Open windows, etc., to ventilate the building. Watch out for broken glass.
  • If a fire is caused by the earthquake, implement the FIRE PROCEDURES.
  • Determine whether anyone has been caught in the elevators or was trapped by falling objects. If so, call 911.
  • If the structural integrity appears to be deteriorating rapidly, evacuate the building.
  • DO NOT USE THE TELEPHONE UNLESS IT IS NECESSARY FOR EMERGENCIES. Heavy use of the telephone will tie up the lines and prevent emergency calls from going out.
  • Damaged facilities should be reported to UCAPD (NOTE: Gas leaks and power failures create special hazards.).
  • If an emergency exists, call 911.
  • If the evacuation alarm sounds, follow established building evacuation procedures (see CAMPUS EVACUATION PROCEDURES).
  • Should you become trapped in a building, stay calm!
    • If a window is available, place an article of clothing (shirt, coat, etc.) outside the window as a marker for rescue crews.
    • If there is no window, tap on the wall at regular intervals to alert emergency crews of your location.
    • Emergency Personnel will check buildings immediately after a major quake.