What to do during an earthquake

If you are inside when the shaking starts, you should:

Drop, cover, and hold on. Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. Most people injured in earthquakes move more than three metres during the shaking.

Drop, cover and hold

If you are elderly or have limited mobility, remain where you are, bracing yourself in place.

If you are in bed, stay there, hold on, and protect your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured if you stay in bed. Broken glass on the floor can injure you.

Stay away from windows. Windows can shatter with such force that you can be injured by flying glass even if you are several metres away. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand, you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops. If you go outside after shaking stops, move quickly away from buildings to prevent injury from falling debris.

Be aware that fire alarm and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire. Check for and extinguish small fires, and exit via the stairs.

If you are in a coastal area, drop, cover and hold on during an earthquake and then move immediately to higher ground when the shaking stops or, if the area is flat move as far inland as possible. Earthquakes off the coast can generate tsunami.

If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should:

Find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines.

Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops. Injuries can occur from falling trees, streetlights, power lines, and building debris.

If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location, stop, and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Trees, power lines, poles, street signs, overpasses, and other overhead items may fall during earthquakes. Stopping in a clear location will reduce your risk, and a hardtopped vehicle will help protect you from flying or falling objects. Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake.

If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris that could be loosened by the earthquake. Earthquakes often trigger landslides.

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