Did you know that more than one thousand earthquakes occur in the state of Washington each year? Fortunately, most are small with residents sensing only about 15 to 20. But we know we live in a seismically active region that overlies the Cascadia subduction zone, a source of damaging earthquakes and volcanic activity. The Puget Sound lowlands are also subject to landslides.
Because King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are in a highly volatile geological zone, local emergency experts consider earthquakes the most potentially damaging natural hazard for the region.
The timing of earthquakes is unpredictable. They can happen when your family is at home, work, traveling by car or mass transit, or in different locations.
Your best protection is to develop a family plan, create a portable earthquake kit and know how to stay safe during and after an earthquake. Fortunately, the preparations you make for an earthquake also will help you and your family cope with many other hazards.
Reducing Earthquake Damage at Home
Survey your home to identify heavy items, such as bookcases, water heaters, televisions, computers and storage cabinets that may fall over, spill out contents or injure people during an earthquake. Secure them to the wall and install strong latches on cupboards.
What to Do During an Earthquake: Drop, Cover, Hold on!
When inside a Building
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends drop, cover and hold on as the best practice to follow during an earthquake if you are inside a building.
According to FEMA, most injuries during earthquakes occur when people attempt to move to a different location inside a building or try to leave. Instead of risking injury due to falling debris, quickly seek a place of safety, such as under a sturdy table or desk nearby, and hold on. Protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm.
The American Red Cross emphasizes:
- Teaching children to DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON .
- Practicing your earthquake plan as a family at least twice each year.
When Outside or Traveling by Car
If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground. If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place away from buildings, trees and power lines. Stay in the car until the shaking stops .
Other Helpful Earthquake Resources