Earthquake Q&A: What to Do Before, During and After the Shaking

Here are some tips and reminders to keep in mind no matter where you are when the shaking starts.

Getty Images

BURBANK, CA – NOVEMBER 13: Students of Stevenson Elementary School drop, cover and hold on during the region-wide simulation of an expected catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the San Andreas Fault during the Great Southern California ShakeOut earthquake drill, the largest earthquake preparedness event in US history, on November 13, 2008 in the Los Angeles area city of Burbank, California. An estimated 5.2 million people in Southern California are expected to participate in the scenario in which 1,800 people die, 53,000 people are injured, 1,500 buildings collapse, 1,600 fires ignite, and $213 billion in damage are done by a quake 50 times more intense than the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Scientist believe that on average, a massive earthquake occurs south of the San Gabriel Mountains about every 150 years. The last one was at least 300 years ago. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Californians will drop, cover and hold on during a statewide earthquake preparedness drill, now in its 13th year.

The Great California ShakeOut of 2021 is scheduled for 10:21 a.m.

Below, you'll find a Q&A with Chief Sam DiGiovanna of the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale.

Elizabeth Chavolla
This bag includes scissors, bandages, gauze, insurance cards, cut and rash creams, antiseptic cream, antihistamine tablets, cough syrup, alcohol towels, eye drops and distilled water.
Elizabeth Chavolla
Perhaps the most important tool in an emergency situation is the whistle, as this will help rescue teams find you.
American Red Cross
It is important that each member of your family has their own backpack. Each backpack should include everything that is mentioned on this list. Seniors, babies and pets must have their own backpack. If you have a pet, prepare a backpack with food and toys.
Elizabeth Chavolla
The poncho will keep you dry and protect you from rain. Also have a change of thermal clothing.
Elizabeth Chavolla
In a plastic bag, put soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, cotton, cleaning towels, lotion, disposable tissues, razors and feminine towels.
These lenses are used for protecting your eyes from dust and other hazards.
Elizabeth Chavolla
In a plastic bag include a copy of your identification, license, passport and social security.
Elizabeth Chavolla
One gallon of water per person is recommended, so that you have water for at least 3 to 5 days.
Elizabeth Chavolla
Be sure to pack one or two chargers for your phone, as well as portable chargers that can be pre-charged and ready to use while on the go.
Elizabeth Chavolla
All food you keep must be food that is not perishable. Do not forget to include a can opener.
Elizabeth Chavolla
It is important to have a flashlight in your emergency backpack, but also in every room of your home, given that a natural disaster can occur at any time. Make sure you have enough batteries.
Elizabeth Chavolla
It is important to have a self-charging radio and to have batteries for it. You can buy a radio combo, which includes flashlight, radio and phone charger.
Elizabeth Chavolla
These elements are necessary to close the gas supply in your home.
Elizabeth Chavolla
If you have a medical history, include a list of your medicines and have enough doses for one week.
Elizabeth Chavolla
Keep cash in your bag. In case of a major emergency, there will be no access to banks or ATMs.

What should we do before an earthquake?

Be prepared for up to 72 hours with food, water, and supplies. Flashlight, batteries, radio and first aid kit. Learn how to turn off/control the gas, water, and electricity. Make up a plan of where to meet your family and neighbors after an earthquake.

Just like EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home), practice with your family and neighbors. Train as if your life depends on it – because it does. Remember, the most emergency preparedness kits are sold after an earthquake. Now is the time to prepare! Do not forget about the elderly & pets!

If I am in bed and an earthquake strikes, what do I do?

Duck, cover and hold. Put your pillow over your head and wait until the shaking stops. Have a flashlight near your bed because power may be out.

What if I am at home, at work or is a store. What should I do?

Stay calm.. If you are indoors, stay inside. If you are outside, stay outside. If you are indoors, stand against a wall near the center of the building. Stay away from windows. If you are outdoors, stay in the open away from power lines or anything that might fall.

Many of us spend a lot of time of time in our cars. What if I’m driving?

If you are in a car, stop the car and stay inside the car until the earthquake stops. Have an emergency kit in your car along with sturdy shoes in the event you may have to walk. Watch out for powerlines or objects that can fall.

What should I do when the shaking stops?

Check yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid for anyone who needs it. Check water, gas, and electric lines for damage. Do not touch any downed lines! If you smell gas, evacuate immediately. Do not turn off the gas unless you smell it. Be careful around broken glass and debris. Expect aftershocks.

Sam DiGiovanna is a 35-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as Fire Chief at the Monrovia Fire Department and currently serves as Chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale.