Earthquakes in the Bay Area may be inevitable, but damage from them is not. The steps you take before, during and after an earthquake will help make you safer and reduce injuries, damage and losses. First and foremost, plan for the personal safety of you and your loved ones. By having a solid personal safety plan in place, you will be better able to help the university if you are not worrying about your loved ones. The resource section of this guide contains links to a variety of sites which will help you to better prepare for an earthquake.

Before an earthquake

  • Make note of the location of fire extinguishers and emergency supplies in your area
  • Identify what equipment you should shut down to reduce potential hazards when safe to do so
  • Look around your area and decide where the safe spots are located;  e.g., under sturdy tables, desks or against inside walls
  • Always store flammable and hazardous chemicals in secondary containment trays and in approved cabinets
  • Keep breakables and heavy objects on lower shelves whenever possible so they do not fall and injure someone
  • Ensure seismic restraints and latches on shelves and cabinets are secured
  • Secure valuable equipment, process tanks, storage tanks, gas cylinders, closets, and materials to prevent loss
  • Consult the Personal Preparedness section of this manual for more information
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of your Emergency Assembly Point (EAP)

During: If you are inside

  • Immediately “duck, cover, and hold”
    • Under a desk, table or chair
    • Between seating rows in classrooms
    • Against a corridor wall
    • If unable to get under something, cover your head with your arms to help protect against falling objects.

Note: Wheelchair users: Apply the brake. Cover your head with your arms to help protect against falling objects. Ask for assistance.

  • Do not go into a doorway
  • Do not run or panic
  • Move away from the danger areas: near windows, hanging objects, tall unsecured furniture (bookcases, cabinets, and appliances), and research or process equipment containing hazardous chemicals. Most casualties in earthquakes result from falling materials.
  • Stay inside under cover until shaking stops
  • Watch for falling objects
  • As you leave the area, and if safe to do so, turn off and disconnect power to equipment containing hazardous materials unless needed to keep process or experiment safe
  • Make note of any unsafe conditions, trapped personnel or other hazards to be reported when you evacuate to your EAP

During: If you are outside

  • Stay outside
  • Move to an open area away from buildings, trees, electrical/overhead wires, and other hazards
  • If forced to stand near a building, watch for falling objects

During: If you are in an automobile

  • Stop your vehicle in the nearest open area without blocking the roadway
  • Do not stop under bridges, overpasses, or overhead wires
  • Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops

After: Evacuation

  • Evacuate after the shaking stops to the designated Emergency Assembly Point (EAP) for the building you are in if any of the below occurs or are noted:
    • Smoke and/or fire
    • Fire and/or sprinkler alarm is activated
    • Other life-threatening hazards
    • Significant amount of fallen objects
    • Glass breakage
    • Cracks in walls
  • When in doubt, evacuate the building and assess the situation before taking further action
  • Take your emergency supplies, car keys, purse and/or wallet, with you. You may not be able to re-enter the building.
  • Leave doors unlocked
  • DO NOT USE ELEVATORS – they most likely will not be working
  • Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in obvious, immediate danger from fire, building collapse, etc. Note their locations and report them  at the designated Emergency Assembly Point (EAP)
  • Do not re-enter buildings until emergency management personnel has given clearance to return
  • Await instructions, be patient, and help others
  • Be prepared for aftershocks; these may occur seconds, minutes, hours or days after the initial shock
  • Report serious injuries, fires, or other hazards to the Response Team member for the area at your EAP. Give the following information:
    • Your name
    • Location of the problem (building, floor, room number, etc.)
    • Severity of the situation
    • Indicate whether any people or equipment are involved or are in imminent danger
  • Only activate the Fire Alarm if there is a fire in your building

After: Additional instructions

  • Open doors carefully
  • Do not use plumbing, light switches, or gas until utility lines have been checked
  • Do not use matches, lighters, or candles
  • Replace telephone handsets on cradles and avoid using phones for non-emergency purposes
  • Stay on campus until you have been accounted for and instructed that it is safe to leave
  • Roads may have been damaged or blocked by debris, so travel may be dangerous
  • For campus emergency information:
  • For area information, follow reports on “Emergency Alert System” radio stations (e.g., KCBS 740 AM) and television

After: If you are trapped in a building

  • Stay calm
  • If a window is available, place an article of clothing (shirt, coat, etc.) outside the window as a marker for rescue crews
  • If there is no window, regularly tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are
  • If possible, use a flashlight or whistle to signal your location to rescuers
  • If available, pull a manual fire alarm pull station
  • Shout only as a last resort (to prevent dust inhalation, tiring too quickly, or losing your voice)
  • Avoid unnecessary movement to prevent kicking up dust
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand to prevent breathing in dust and other debris. (Dense-weave cotton material can act as a good filter. Breathe through the material.)