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The Anchorage, Alaska 7.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning, which was later canceled, reminds us all to be prepared for these kinds of unpredictable disasters. Having a disaster plan and supplies and practicing your response with your family could mean escaping serious harm.

Residents who live in seismic zones like San Diego County should know what to do before, during and after a significant earthquake. Most people who are killed or injured during earthquakes are hurt by falling objects around them.

The County of San Diego’s Office of Emergency Services recommends that everyone in a family, including children, know how to drop, cover and hold. Practicing what to do during an earthquakes takes less than two minutes.

Watch what to do when an earthquake strikes.

  • If you’re inside, drop down to avoid falling over during the shaking; you should seek cover under a sturdy table or desk to protect yourself from possible falling debris, and cover your head with one hand, while using the other hand to hold onto the table in case it slides away and leaves you exposed. Try to seek cover where there are no overhanging fixtures, windows or heavy furniture that could topple over.
  • If you’re inside and there’s no table or desk to get under, it is recommended that you move toward an interior wall with nothing above it or affixed to the wall that could fall onto you. Make sure there is no window nearby or heavy furniture that could be knocked over onto you either. Cover your head with your hands.
  • If you’re in bed when an earthquake occurs, you can cover your head with your hands and a pillow and make sure you are not under an overhead fixture or shelf. Be careful of broken glass or debris when getting out of bed afterward.
  • If you’re outside when an earthquake happens, you need to be in a clear area away from buildings where the façade might crumble; make sure you’re not under any utility lines, trees or bridges.
  • If you’re driving, pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops.
  • If near a shoreline, drop to the ground in a clear area and cover your head. Then as soon as you can walk, move inland or to higher ground in case of a tsunami. Walking is recommended over driving to avoid congestion.

For more specific situations, visit’s earthquake safety tips. You can also visit to learn more about earthquake safety or tsunamis.

An emergency family plan template is available in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese. The template includes a list of important items to assemble in your disaster emergency kit.

In addition to making a plan for what to do during an earthquake, you can prepare by walking around your home and securing furniture and wall hangings to prevent items from falling over during intense shaking and injuring someone.

After a significant earthquake, you would want to be prepared for aftershocks, check yourself and others for injuries and check the structure for damage or gas leaks or fires.

Residents are also encouraged to register their cellphones on AlertSanDiego, the County’s emergency notification system and download the SD Emergency App at no cost.

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