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One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible after effects.

An earthquake is a sudden movement of the earth, caused by the abrupt release of strain that has accumulated over a long time. The United States Department of Geology develops and maintains nation-wide earthquake hazard maps, and provides information on all historical and recent earthquakes.

There are several known earthquake hazards throughout the County with further geologic analyses ongoing. The Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network monitors all earthquake activity in Washington and Oregon. Recent evaluation of the earthquake potential in the Pacific Northwest indicates that we could experience a subduction zone earthquake measuring in excess of 9 on the Richter scale. Such an occurrence would cause heavy loss of life and devastation of public and private property and infrastructure. You can reduce the impact of earthquakes by taking time to prepare for earthquakes now.

Drop, Cover and Hold On

Falling objects cause most earthquake-related injuries


When an an earthquake strikes:

  • If you are indoors stay there. Drop, cover, and hold on, alongside or beneath something sturdy - protecting your head, neck and eyes by pressing your face against your arm, until the shaking stops.


    If there is no "cover" go to an interior wall, crouch low and protect your head, neck and eyes. For example, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, skylights, doors, and things that could fall.

    Store Or Other Public Place - Move away from shelves and displays that may fall over or hold objects that could fall, then duck, cover and hold on.

    Wheelchair - If you are in a wheelchair, stay in it. Move to cover if possible. Lock your wheels and protect your head with your arms.

    Kitchen - Move away from the refrigerator, stove and overhead cupboards, then duck, cover and hold on. (Internal security latches on cupboards will reduce injury from broken glass and debris.)

    Theater or Stadium - If possible get on the floor between the rows and cover your head with your arms—otherwise stay in your seat and protect your head with your arms. Do not try to leave until the shaking stops and then leave in a calm, orderly manner.

    High-Rise Buildings - Do not use the elevators and don't be surprised if the fire alarm and/or sprinkler systems come on.

    Once the earth quits shaking, be prepared to evacuate the building if structural damage is apparent. Watch out for broken glass, blocked exits, etc. when evacuating.

  • If you are outdoors, move quickly and safely into the open, away from electrical lines, trees, and buildings. Drop to the ground and wait for the shaking to stop.

  • If you are driving, carefully and slowly bring your vehicle to a stop at the side of the road away from traffic. Do not stop on or under bridges, under power lines or near roadway signs that might fall. Once the shaking has stopped, you can continue driving, but watch carefully for possible damage to the roadway.

Additional earthquake response information

Content provided by Emergency Management

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