What to do AFTER an Earthquake


In honor of Emergency Preparedness Month for September, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) continues to encourage residents of the Golden State to be prepared for, during and after a disaster. Californians pride themselves on being prepared for any disaster, but knowing what to do AFTER a disaster strikes is also very important.  

Threats from an earthquake come not only from shaking but also from hazards after the shaking stops. It’s important to remember to be aware of your surroundings, check on loved ones and carefully assess any damages.  

Check for Hazards  

  • Fires: If safe to do so, immediately extinguish a fire. Otherwise, call 911.  
  • Gas leaks: If you suspect a gas leak or smell natural gas (rotten eggs), shut off the main gas valve. Note: Once you turn off the gas, do not turn it back on yourself. Wait for the gas utility company to check for leaks and have the company restore your service.  
  • Damaged electrical wiring and utility lines: Shut off your power at the control box. Do not touch downed power lines or any objects in contact with them. Contact the local electric utility company.  
  • Spills: If you can do so safely, clean up any spilled medications or spills of other potentially harmful materials such as bleach, lye or gasoline.  
  • Downed or damaged chimneys: Approach chimneys with caution; they may be weakened and could topple during aftershocks. Do not use a fireplace with a damaged chimney; the damage could cause a fire or leak toxic fumes into the home.  
  • Broken glass: To avoid injuries, be sure to wear sturdy shoes.  
  • Fallen objects: Look for objects that have fallen, being careful as you check closets and cupboards for objects that still might fall. 

Check Food and Water Supplies  

  • Lack of electricity and meal planning: If you have no electricity, plan to first eat refrigerated and frozen foods that will spoil quickly. Refrigerated and frozen food will keep for at least two days if you do not open the doors too often.  
  • Using the stove: If you suspect a gas leak, do not turn on a stove. Even an electric stove can create a spark that could cause an explosion.  
  • Outdoor cooking: Only use barbecues or camp stoves outdoors. Do not use them indoors. 

Check on Your Loved Ones 

  • If able, check on your family members in case they are injured. 
  • Do not attempt to move a person who is seriously injured unless there is an immediate danger of further injury. 
  • Cover injured persons with blankets to keep them warm. 
  • Seek medical help for other serious injuries. 
  • If someone is gravely injured, please call 911.  

Learn More: Earthquake.ca.gov