Stay Safe: In Case of an Earthquake

It’s Tuesday once again, which beings us another STAY SAFE column by Ravenna’s Safety Girl, Shannon.


Earthquakes are the major natural hazard we’re prone to here in the Pacific Northwest, and the one our local services spend the most time and energy preparing for. You can keep yourself safer during an earthquake by remembering to:

Drop… cover… and hold.


Get low to the ground, but don’t run outside or into a doorway.


Within the first 3-4 seconds of shaking, get under a nearby table, desk, or sturdy counter. If there is nothing nearby you can get under, crouch next to heavy furniture or an inside wall, and cover your head with your arms.


Hold onto the table legs, desk, or furniture you’ve taken cover with. The strong vibrations of an earthquake could cause it to drift away from you if you’re not hanging onto it! Keep your cover overhead by holding on.


What if I’m outside?

If you’re near a building, go into the building and take cover in a safe place. In the United States, you’re in far more danger immediately outside a building than inside it.

If you’re in an open area outside, sit down and cover your head with your arms.

What if I’m not at home or work?

If you’re in a movie theater or stadium, get down between the rows of seats. If you’re at the grocery store, crouch down next to your cart and hold onto it.

If you’re driving, pull to the side of the road unless there is a tall building next to you. If you’re on a bridge, keep driving until you are off the bridge and then pull over, unless it is clearly unsafe to keep crossing the bridge. After the shaking stops, do not get out of the car until you or a bystander makes sure there are no power lines touching your car.

I thought we were supposed to stand in doorways?

Nope, it’s been proven that this is less safe. In older buildings this was true because doorways were designed to be load-bearing, but new construction methods have made doorways unsafe places to be during an earthquake.

It is also difficult to stay standing within a doorway during an earthquake, and during a quake the door will swing back and forth due to the vibrations. You don’t want to add smashed fingers and knuckles to your list of concerns afterward! Stay out of the doorways.

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