After the Earthquake, Check for Injuries and Damage

First, take care of your own situation. Remember your emergency plans. Aftershocks may cause additional damage or items to fall, so quickly get to a safe location. Take your disaster supplies kit.

If you are trapped by falling items or a building collapse, protect your mouth, nose, and eyes from dust. If you are bleeding, put pressure on the wound and elevate the injured part. Signal for help with your emergency whistle, a cell phone, or knock loudly on solid pieces of the building, three times every few minutes. Rescue personnel will be listening for such sounds.

Once you are safe, help others and check for damage. Protect yourself by wearing sturdy shoes and work gloves, to avoid injury from broken glass and debris. Also wear a dust mask and eye protection.


  • Check your first aid kit for first-aid manual.
  • If a person is bleeding, apply direct pressure on the wound. Use clean gauze or cloth, if available.
  • If a person is not breathing, administer rescue breathing.
  • If a person has no pulse, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
  • Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Cover injured persons with blankets or additional clothing to keep them warm.
  • Get medical help for serious injuries.
  • Carefully check children or others needing special assistance


  • Fire - If possible, put out small fires in your home or neighborhood immediately. Call for help, but don't wait for the fire department.
  • Gas Leaks - Shut off the main gas valve only if you suspect a leak from broken pipes or the odor or sound of leaking natural gas. Don't turn the gas back on yourself - wait for the gas company to check for leaks.
  • Damaged Electrical Wiring - Shut off power at the main breaker switch if there is any damage to your house wiring. Leave the power off until the damage is repaired.
  • Broken Lights and Appliances - Unplug these as they could start fires when electricity is restored.
  • Downed Power Lines - If you see downed power lines, consider them live/energized and stay well away from them. Keep others away from them also. Never touch downed power lines or any objects in contact with them including vehicles.
  • Fallen Items - Beware of items tumbling off shelves when you open the doors of closets and cupboards.
  • Spills - Use extreme caution. Clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, or other non-toxic substances. Potentially harmful materials such as bleach, lye, garden chemicals, and gasoline or other petroleum products should be isolated or covered with an absorbent such as dirt or cat litter. When in doubt, leave your home.
  • Damaged Masonry - Stay away from chimneys and walls made of brick or block. They may have been weakened during the quake and could topple during aftershocks. Don't use a fireplace with a damaged chimney - It could start a fire or let poisonous gases into your home.