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The Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

Even with California’s MyShake earthquake phone app, you may only have between 10-60 seconds to get ready for a major earthquake. Just enough time so you can Drop, Cover, and Hold On before the shaking begins.

Earthquake safety involves being prepared and knowing what to do. Practicing earthquake safety at home and creating a disaster safety kit before the next earthquake is crucial to your family’s safety. Organize disaster supplies and strengthen your house​ against earthquake damage. Prepare for an earthquake with these recommended steps.

Follow the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety (PDF) to be prepared to survive and recover from the next damaging earthquake. Practice the seven steps with your family.

Download the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety Brochure (PDF)


No one can predict when or where an earthquake will strike, but you and your family can be prepared before the next big one hits. The following earthquake preparation tips take a few hours to create a plan and organize supplies that will keep you safer.

Step 1: Secure Your Space

Step 1: Secure Your Space

Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items.

Step 2: Plan to be Safe

Step 2: Plan to be Safe

Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.

Step 3: Organize Disaster Supplies

Step 3: Organize Disaster Supplies

Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations

Step 4: Minimize Financial Hardship

Step 4: Minimize Financial Hardship

Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance.


Survive when the earth shakes by practicing and performing Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Protect your head and neck by sheltering under heavy desks or tables. Stay away from windows and bookshelves. Do not move until all the shaking has ended, or an all-clear signal is given.

Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On

Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On

Drop, cover, and hold on when the earth shakes.

Step 6: Improve Safety

Step 6: Improve Safety

Improve safety after earthquakes by evacuating if necessary, helping the injured, and preventing further damage.


Once the earthquake is over and it is safe to move around, check to be sure everyone is safe and not injured. Start first aid for any injuries and/or get immediate medical attention.

Be ready for aftershocks, which are normal following an earthquake.

Then be prepared to protect your property by examining electrical wires, appliances chimneys, and utilities for damage. Check to see that sewage lines are intact and working.

With a residential earthquake policy in place, you will have the financial resources to recover. Without earthquake insurance, you will be responsible for damages to your property and personal belongings.

If you have earthquake insurance, notify your insurance professional as soon as possible to file your earthquake damage claim. Be sure to include any changes in your contact information. Take pictures of damaged property and keep detailed notes.

Consult your insurance agent with any questions about how your insurance settlement will be paid. Before you sign a contract with a professional doing repairs, be sure of payment terms.

Step 7: Reconnect and Restore

Step 7: Reconnect and Restore

Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.

Important Earthquake Safety Precautions

If you have prepared before the quake, the MyShake earthquake app on your phone will give you seconds to activate your emergency plan. Staying calm is the first step in earthquake safety precautions.

  • When an earthquake starts, grab your emergency preparedness kit. Remember, Drop, Cover, and Hold On.
  • Get down on the ground under a table or desk. Keep your emergency preparedness kit nearby so you'll have the supplies you need.
  • Keep clear of windows—glass may shatter from the shaking.
  • Never stand under objects that can fall on top of you like a large bookcase.
  • If you’re in bed, cover your head and neck with pillows.
  • If you are home, don’t go outside. Stay off the roads.
  • If you’re outside, move away from buildings which can collapse. Stay in an open area where there are no trees, buildings or power lines.
  • If you’re driving when an earthquake strikes, pull over to a large open area that’s not under trees or power lines. Set the parking brake. Stay in the vehicle.
  • If you’re at school, work, or any shopping area don’t take the elevator. Take the stairs.

Learn more today about what to do in other specific situations, wherever you are when the earth shakes. And, get more information on earthquake safety.

Preparing Your Home for a Seismic Event

Prepare your home BEFORE an earthquake. Decrease your risk of damage and injury from an earthquake by identifying possible structural risks and geologic hazards near you.

Consider earthquake insurance to protect the financial investment you have in your home. CEA policies provide you with the strength to rebuild and repair, funds to live elsewhere while repairs are being made to your home, and help you replace your personal property if it is damaged in an earthquake. Contact your insurance agent or residential insurance company to find the CEA policy that is right for you.

Understanding Structural Risks

An earthquake’s powerful shaking can rupture the earth, trigger landslides, and turn the surface of the earth to liquid. Your home also may be vulnerable to serious structural damage if it was built before 1980.

Earthquake safety preparation requires your understanding of the potential structural threats to your home in case of an earthquake.

A seismic retrofit involves strengthening your home’s foundation to make it more resistant to shaking. CEA offers earthquake home insurance premium discounts for houses and mobilehomes that have been properly retrofitted. Find out about grants to help pay for retrofits under the Earthquake Brace & Bolt Program, and the CEA Brace & Bolt program.

Evaluating Geologic Hazards

With nearly 16,000 known state faults, most of us live within 30 miles of an active risk. California is earthquake country. It is not just Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area that are home to active faults. Every region of the state holds a degree of earthquake risk. California is earthquake country.

Find out about faults in your area by visiting the CEA risk map for each county. This information will help you create an earthquake precaution checklist.

Then learn about your home’s structural risks and the steps you can take to seismically strengthen your house. California Office of Emergency Services MyHazards can help you find out if the area where you live or work is prone to earthquake-induced landslides.

Buy Earthquake Insurance

Our affordable earthquake insurance policies let you select the coverage that fits your budget. CEA insurance rates, based on the latest science and research, are determined by several factors including your home’s age, location near a fault, foundation type, construction type, and roof type.

For the best choice of CEA earthquake home insurance policies, select deductibles from 5%-25%.

CEA earthquake homeowners insurance is easy to buy. Contact your home insurance agent to discuss adding a separate earthquake policy to your home or renter’s insurance. You can add the coverage today, no need to wait until your home policy comes up for renewal.

CEA works with 20 residential insurance companies that serve the majority of California homeowners.