Surviving An Earthquake – Part II: 5 Safest Places To Hide

In Preparedness on May 11, 2010 at 12:54

Cerena, a viewer of my blog, asked if there was additional information about where the best places to hide in your home are during an earthquake.  She had heard from a firefighter friend that against a wall is the best place because tables could give way under heavy debris.  I searched many resources, people who survived earthquakes, FEMA, as well as blogs like this one.  Well, Cerena I think I have your answer:

5 Safest Places To Hide During An Earthquake:

  1. Desk, table, bench or against an inside wall. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  2. Door Frame (use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load bearing doorway).
  3. Interior of a room.  Windows break, outside walls are generally the first to go.  So the center of the house with no outside walls is best when using this technique.
  4. Closet.  But it needs to be free of debris.  The last thing you want is more hazards that could fall on your head.  This is where some preparation would help.
  5. Outside.  There is less chance of getting crushed by your home, but remember that most injuries during earthquakes occur when people are hit by falling objects when entering into or exiting from buildings.

FEMA TIPS (which I thought were actually pretty good):

Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

Stay in bed – if you are there when the earthquake strikes – hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place (I think I would be hiding in the closet if this happens).

Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside.

Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

DO NOT use the elevators (that is a no brainer).

Bottomline: It depends on where you are when the earthquake strikes.  The interior walls are your best bet.  However, if your interior rooms are 10-15′ away and the kitchen table is right next to you, get under the table.  If you are near an outside wall and can quickly and easily move to an interior one, do it.  You want to choose the best possible option for safety depending on your circumstances in the moment.  Be prepared, clean out the closet of loose junk (and dangerous overhead objects).  If you’re shopping for a new dining room table, make sure it is solid wood and sturdy (to serve two purposes).  Take a moment and plan with your family the best possible places to hide depending on the location of the house.

  1. Thank you for giving more information on where to go! I would repeat to make sure what you climb under is very sturdy! If your home falls in and buries you, will what you are under stay standing or collapse? It would be a good family activity to go through your home and decide where to go or create a place in each room to go into should an earthquake hit. I’ve been in several and everyone of them hit at night. If you’ve planned you’ll know what to do!

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