Earthquake Preparedness

Earthquake Preparedness: At School and in the Community

Certain parts of our state and county are at higher earthquake risk than others, and you may travel to these areas on vacation, for work, or for school. By understanding your risk, you can take the right steps to minimize or avoid injuries, and damage. Preparation is key. If earthquakes scare us because we feel out of control, think how much truer this must be for children. It is important to spend time with children in your care before the next earthquake to explain why earthquakes occur. Involve them in developing your disaster plan, preparing disaster supply kits, and practice "drop, cover, and hold on." At each of our schools, we regularly practice earthquake drills. In addition, the California Department of Education has partnered with the Earthquake Country Alliance to encourage schools to meet earthquake drill requirements by participating in the Great California ShakeOut each October. Our schools participate each year, using the event to encourage our schools and communities to get prepared, to practice what to do to be safe, and to learn what disaster procedures or plans need to be improved. Whether at school or in the community--be prepared.

Earthquake Preparedness: On the Bus

If a minor earthquake occurs while a bus is on a scheduled pickup or take-home run, the bus will temporarily stop until the driver can determine all is clear, then continue the regularly assigned route. If a major earthquake occurs while a bus is on the run, the bus will stop picking up or dropping off students and as safety conditions allow, will go to the nearest District school to await further instructions. Children waiting to be picked up by the bus or who have been dropped off at their stop should return home or go to an alternate safe address.

We encourage you to discuss with your children the procedures they should be prepared to follow in the event of an emergency.

What to Do and What Not To Do in an Earthquake

Federal, state, and local emergency management experts all agree that "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. The following information, courtesy of, explains what to do-- and what not to do.

VIDEO: When The Earth Shakes - Animated Video

Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognized "Drop, Cover and Hold On" protocol to protect lives during earthquakes:

  • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!)
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

These are general guidelines for most situations. The main point is to immediately protect yourself as best as possible wherever you are. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl. Studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building.

DO NOT get in a doorway! An early earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. In modern houses and buildings, doorways are no safer, and they do not protect you from flying or falling objects. Get under a table instead!

DO NOT run outside! Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris or glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as glass, bricks, or other building components may be falling. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.

DO NOT believe the so-called "triangle of life"! In recent years, an e-mail has circulated which recommends potentially life threatening actions, and the source has been discredited by leading experts.

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