Here’s guidance from the National Weather Service (NWS)1, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)2, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)3 , the American Red Cross4, and the U.S. Geological Survey5 to help you prepare for earthquakes in your area.

  1. Know your area’s risk. An earthquake can happen in any region without advanced warning. However, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington, and the Mississippi River Valley are all more prone to experiencing earthquakes. To find out if you live near a fault linke or zone, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Interactive Fault Map, opens new window.
  2. Make a plan. Create a plan that includes the steps your family can take in response to an earthquake, such as knowing who to contact and where to meet in case of separation. Practice “Drop, Cover, Hold On” with your family and with others during the Great ShakeOut, opens new window in October of every year.
  3. Recognize warnings and alerts for earthquakes. Sign up for notifications to find out when an earthquake happens near you through the U.S. Geological Surveys Earthquake Notification Service, opens new window. If you live in California, you can register for earthquake warnings, opens new window that will notify you before an earthquake happens.

    NWS definitions , opens new window

    • Red Flag Warning: Fire conditions are ongoing or expected to occur shortly.
    • Fire Weather Watch: Critical fire weather conditions are possible but not imminent or occurring.
    • Extreme Fire Behavior: A wildfire is out of control.
  4. Build a kit. Make sure you have a kit with essential supplies specifically for an earthquake. This should include your standard emergency supplies for your family and pets. Keep supplies in your car in the event that you cannot get back into your home. Also helpful in an earthquake are gloves for cleaning debris, a fire extinguisher, a shovel, and a whistle.
  5. Prepare your home.
    1. Store breakable objects close to the ground.
    2. Ensure heavy items in your home are secure (furniture, appliances, televisions, etc.).
    3. Know how to turn off the water, electricity, and gas.
    4. Check your roof for loose tiles and chimney for loose bricks.
    5. Fix structural issues to help prevent your home from collapsing.
    6. Consider an earthquake insurance policy.


  1. “National Weather Service safety tips,” last accessed April 19, 2021,, opens new window
  2. “Disaster information,” last accessed April 19, 2021,, opens new window
  3. “Natural disasters and severe weather,” last accessed April 19, 2021,, opens new window
  4. “Earthquake Safety,” last accessed July 20, 2021, American Red Cross, , opens new window
  5. “Learn about earthquake hazards,” last accessed July 20, 2021, U.S. Geological Survey,, opens new window