How to Stay Safe Before, During and After an Earthquake

Drop Cover Hold On

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. They strike without warning, at any time of year, day or night.

Forty-five U.S. states and territories are at moderate to very high risk of earthquakes.

The American Red Cross is sharing the following tips to keep your loved ones safe:

  • Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON with all members of your household.
  • Doorways are no stronger than any other part of a structure so don’t rely on them for protection! During an earthquake, get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on.

Protecting Your Family

  • Talk about earthquakes with your family so that everyone knows what to do in case of an earthquake. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Check at your workplace and your children’s schools and day care centers to learn about their earthquake emergency plans.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts:

o Find an online NOAA radio station.

o Search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play.

o Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio at

  • Keep a flashlight and any low-heeled shoes by each person’s bed.


Protecting Pets & Animals

  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals that includes food, water, pet toys and pet medication.


Protecting Your Home

  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over.
  • Ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
  • Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, as well as strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.


During an Earthquake

Staying Safe Indoors


o Move as little as possible – most injuries during earthquakes occur because of people moving around, falling and suffering sprains, fractures and head injuries.

o Try to protect your head and torso.

  • If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on, and cover your head.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.

o If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power outages or other damage.

  • Be aware that smoke alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
  • If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away as possible.
  • Before you leave any building check to make sure that there is no debris from the building that could fall on you.


Staying Safe Outdoors

  • Find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • Try to get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees, and streetlights as possible.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible.

o Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.

o After the shaking has stopped, drive on carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.

o If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.

  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris as well as landslides.


After an Earthquake

If you do nothing else:

  1. If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  2. Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.
  3. After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami if you live on a coast.
  4. Each time you feel an aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
  5. Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
  6. Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.


Caring for Yourself & Loved Ones

  • If you are at home, look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Listen to a portable, battery operated or handcrank radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
  • Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Help people who require additional assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.


Returning Home Safely

  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after an earthquake. Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.

Volunteering is a Passion for This R.N.

Between her full time job as a Kaiser Advice Nurse and her meticulous care of an ambitious garden, Patty Harris of Sacramento finds time to volunteer. One of Patty’s projects is sharing her passion for nursing by conducting presentations to young girls in schools.

P Harris 2Having energy to do even more, Patty joined American Red Cross one year ago as a Trainer and Donor Ambassador; assisting Sacramento-area volunteers through Donor Ambassador trainings.  

At a recent Stockton high school blood drive, Patty said this about what stimulates her to volunteer. “It inspires me. It restores my faith in the goodness of people and how generous they are to give of their own bodies. Volunteering money is important but time is important as well. Volunteering is the backbone of our society.”

Meet Red Cross Blood Ambassador John Giehl

Prior to becoming a Donor Ambassador in 2017, John was well versed in the blood donation process.  CaptureJohn served in Vietnam with the US Army Medical Corps. It was there that he grew aware of the life saving gift that was donation of blood. He promised himself that, if he didn’t return from ‘Nam in a body bag, he would return committed to becoming a blood donor. Since then, John has donated over 200 units.  

“Dr. John Giehl” was a psychologist with Tracy Unified School District for 33 years. His goal, upon retirement, was to continue learning and be of service. “My experience with American Red Cross aligns nicely with these endeavors,” he saysWhile enjoying interaction with both staff and fellow volunteers, I really appreciate my time in conversation with blood donors. Our lively post-donation discourse can morph in tone from solemn to gleeful. Each person has a story. 

Red Cross Shelter Housed 12 After Stockton Apartment Ceiling Collapse

Stockton Apt Shelter

The American Red Cross sheltered 12 people Sunday night after a ceiling collapsed at a Stockton apartment complex.

Damage at the Meadow Green Apartments was caused by excessive water after weekend rains, according to local media reports.

Anyone who was directly affected by the incident who needs a place to stay is welcome at the shelter which is located at the Arnold Rue Community Center,  5758 Lorraine Ave, Stockton, CA, 95210.

The Red Cross provides for immediate needs at our shelters, including a place to sleep, food and beverages.

You can support the Red Cross by making a donation at

Urgent Call for Blood Donations

Blood Drive at the Rayburn House Building Capitol Hill 2017

This message is from Chris Hrouda, President, Red Cross Biomedical Services:

 I am reaching out to alert you that last month the Red Cross collected approximately 11,500 fewer type O blood donations than needed—causing these donations to be distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in. As such, the American Red Cross is issuing a critical shortage appeal for type O blood donations, nationwide on Tuesday, May 14.

This shortage is particularly relevant given that May is Trauma Awareness Month and the unique role type O blood donations play in the treatment of trauma patients. Right now, the Red Cross has just six units of type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but more than double that amount is needed every day.

When Seconds Count—Type O is Critical

As you know, type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often in short supply. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there’s not enough time to determine a patient’s blood type in the most serious situations.

According to Dr. Jennifer Andrews, a pediatric hematologist who oversees the blood bank at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, O negative is like liquid gold to us in the blood bank and especially to our colleagues in the trauma service. Oftentimes trauma victims are brought to our hospital in extremis dying of their injuries and we don’t have enough time to get their blood type here in our blood bank. So very commonly trauma centers, across the U.S. will give them O negative blood red blood cells when we don’t know their blood type because that’s compatible with every blood type.”

How You Can Help

Schedule a blood donation appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or saying “Alexa, schedule a blood donation appointment.” While type O is critically needed, platelet and blood donors of all types are urged to give now to help trauma patients and others who depend on lifesaving blood products.

We also recognize that not everyone is able to give and ask for your help in recruiting a family member or friend to give on your behalf, spreading the word on social media, or volunteering at a local blood drive. Interested individuals can also sign up to host a blood drive in the months ahead.

We all can play an important role in helping to ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients who are counting on us. Thank you.

Have a Passion for Disaster Preparedness and Like to Talk to Kids? Check Out the Pillowcase Project

The American Red Cross Pillowcase Project is a free, interactive preparedness program designed for youth ages 8 to 11. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of natural hazards and teaches safety, emotional coping skills, and personal preparedness.

Through instructor-led presentations, students learn the best ways to stay safe and how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during a disaster. Students also have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases and share what they’ve learned with friends and family.

The curriculum meets many of the Common Core State Standards for grades three to five.

You may request The Pillowcase Project one-hour presentation for your school or youth program by selecting The Pillowcase Project here.

The Gold Country Region is also always looking for volunteers to lead Pillowcase Project presentations. Go to to sign up and help!

Sound the Alarm: Thank You to Our Partners

Hundreds of volunteers and community partners will join the American Red Cross this month for our annual signature event – Sound the Alarm – to install 1,000 free smoke alarms in seven cities throughout the Gold Country Region.

Our goal is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries associated with home fires by 25% by 2020. It’s an endeavor we could not undertake without the generous support of community partners.

Thank you!