Drop Cover and Hold is the chat school children are now taught to remember what to do when an earthquake occurs. It is recognized internationally by emergency management experts as the safest response procedure and the one recommended to be taught. It is very simple: drop to the floor, cover your head with a table or piece of furniture and hold on tightly. Children practice this response but adults do not. This is evidenced by most every video you see depicting how people act during an earthquake. Adults will stand or remain sitting and look around the room in a daze. Some will yell, “earthquake”, some will have a nervous reaction and laugh, while others will begin to run for an exit. These videos are primers for what not to do.
A wise person will acknowledge something is happening. Yell, “Earthquake, Drop, Cover and Hold”, drop to the floor and find cover, remain calm and wait for the shaking to cease. Once the movement stops, remain where you are for a few moments. Aftershocks can occur creating more structural instability and dangerous conditions so remain where you are until you are sure it is safe to move. Yell out to those around you asking if anyone is hurt. Calm those who are upset. Then carefully head to the nearest exit. Try to go in groups and once outside establish everyone has safely exited.
Indoors If you are unable to get under a piece of furniture, lay down beside a piece of furniture and cover your head. There could be a pocket of space created which might be safe. This procedure is called The Triangle of Life and is controversial with some Emergency Managers and Public Safety First Responders. If you are disabled and unable to get out of bed, pull the pillow over your head and pull up the covers. If you are in the bathroom get into the bath tub and cover your head. If possible move away from windows and exterior walls and shelter yourself from breaking glass. Do not use elevators.
Driving Pull over to the side of the road, put on the safety brake and shut off the car. Remain in the car. If the car is hit by powerlines do not try to get out. Wait for safety personnel for assistance. Try not to park on bridges, overpasses or near buildings.
Near a lake, river or ocean shore Drop, Cover and Hold on until the shaking stops. Estimate how long the shaking lasts. If severe shaking lasts 20 seconds or more, immediately evacuate to high ground as a tsunami might have been generated by the earthquake. Move inland 3 kilometers (2 miles) or to land that is at least 30 meters (100 feet) above sea level immediately. Don't wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk quickly, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris and other hazards.
Theaters and stadiums Stay in your seat and cover your head. Do not try to exit until all shaking has ended. Remain calm and exit slowly and carefully.
Below a Dam Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you live downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan.
Outdoors Move away from electrical lines/poles, trees, building, vehicles and other objects to an open area. Drop, Cover and Hold. Stay away from openings in the ground as that is unstable ground.
Call out to children and elderly family members and tell them to remain where they are until an able bodied person can come for them. Keep talking to them to assure them someone is coming and keep them calm.
According to the experts at Earthquake Country “many seismically active parts of the U.S. and other countries, strict building codes reduce the potential of structure collapse. This is most often the case in areas such as Southern California, where codes are among the most stringent. However, there is the possibility of structural failure in certain building types, especially unreinforced masonry, and in certain structures constructed before the latest building codes. Rescue professionals are trained to understand how these structures collapse in order to identify potential locations of survivors. The ONLY exception to the "Drop, Cover and Hold On" rule is if you are in a country with unengineered construction, and if you are on the ground floor of an unreinforced mud-brick (adobe) building, with a heavy ceiling. In that case, you should try to move quickly outside to an open space. This cannot be recommended as a substitute for building earthquake-resistant structures in the first place!”
Practice Drop, Cover and Hold with your family, coworkers, church members and other groups. If they laugh at your suggestion to hold a drill, ask them to take a minute and envision the sights seen recently in Haiti. A two minute practice drill could provide the training necessary for everyone to know what to do when and if an earthquake happens.
Talk about Drop, Cover and Hold tonight at the dinner table and practice a drill. You might save a life.
Earthquakes Magnitude 6.5 and greater since 1978