Whether you are in your home, a school classroom, a high-rise or other type of building, it is important to know how to protect yourself during an earthquake. Practice what to do during an earthquake with your family members so you can react automatically when the shaking starts.
If you are indoors, follow these steps:
Drop -- Drop down to the floor.
Cover -- Take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture. If that is not possible, seek cover against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid danger spots near windows, hanging objects, mirrors or tall furniture.
Hold -- If you take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, hold on to it and be prepared to move with it. HOLD the position until the ground stops shaking and it is safe to move.
If you are outside when the shaking starts, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines. If driving, stop safely as soon as possible. Do not stop under overpasses or bridges. Turn off the engine and turn on the radio. Stay inside your vehicle below window level until the shaking stops. Do not get out of your vehicle if downed power lines have fallen across it.
Measuring the Earthquake
There are two ways to describe the size of an earthquake: magnitude and intensity. Magnitude measures the energy released at the earthquake’s source and is determined from seismograph measurements. Intensity measures the strength of shaking produced by the earthquake at a particular site. This table from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) compares the two earthquake characteristics.
It is important to note that as the magnitude measurement increases by one whole number, the size of the earthquake increases by a factor of 10. Therefore, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake is 10 times larger than a 5.0, and a 7.0 earthquake is 100 times larger than a 5.0.
For Additional Information
- Montana Earthquake Information from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
- Great Shakeout Earthquake Drills
Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC)
- Earthquake - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- United States Geological Survey (USGS)
- Preparing for Earthquakes – American Red Cross
Emergency management content on the Butte-Silver Bow website was developed drawing heavily from and updating the excellent resources offered on the Ready Illinois website produced by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and partner organizations.