Earthquake! What to do when the earth trembles |

Earthquake! What to do when the earth trembles

JoAnne Skelly

I was awakened last week out of a sound sleep by the windows rattling and the bed shaking violently.

The wind chimes were going crazy. About 15 minutes later, it happened again. Earthquake! It had been so many years since our house rocked and rolled that I had forgotten how it felt. I was scared because our bed is near a big window. I also realized I didn’t know what to do in an earthquake.

I got up after the second quake, went to my computer and read up on what to do during an earthquake. So, when the third roll came, I knew to stay in bed on my stomach with my hands over the back of my neck, while covering my head with a pillow. Fortunately, the shock waves stopped after that.

Here are the basics safety tips from if you are inside a building:

Stay where you are until the shaking stops.

Drop down onto your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you down.

Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris.

Hold onto any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops.

I had always thought you were supposed to go stand in a doorway. This website says that a doorway does not provide protection from falling or flying objects and that you may not be able to stay upright. It also recommends that if you can move safely, crawl under a sturdy desk or table. Being near an interior wall is safer than staying near an outside wall or door.

Of course, get away from glass, windows, light fixtures or furniture that can fall. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow or even a book and stay in a tucked position facing down. It gave specific instructions for what to do if you are in bed when you feel the shaking, which is why I stayed in bed when the next quake hit.

Online earthquake education groups’ mantra is “drop, cover and hold on.” advises that not only do you stay away from mirrors, windows and tall furniture, avoid the kitchen with all the appliances and loaded cupboards. “Do not go outside during shaking!”

In case you are outdoors, avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles and other hazards, but “drop, cover and hold on.”

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at