Earthquake Safety Tips: What to Do in the Event of Events Like the 5.1 San Francisco Earthquake

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay Area in California shortly before noon on Tuesday, October 25, FOX Weather reported.

People as far away as San Diego and Lake Tahoe reported feeling the tremors caused by the quake – and another quake could follow.

“There is a 67% chance that a major aftershock will occur within the next week,” Kimberly Blisniuk, an earthquake geologist at San Jose State University, told FOX Weather.

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So what can people do to stay safe during an earthquake?

A March 2020 document released by FEMA as part of their “America’s Prepareathon” campaign provided tips for staying safe before, during and after an earthquake.

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, was felt as far away as San Diego, FOX Weather reported.

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, was felt as far away as San Diego, FOX Weather reported.
(Getty Images/AP Images)

“Earthquakes can range from mild to violent shaking and can occur anytime, anywhere,” FEMA said in the document.

“While earthquakes can and do occur throughout the country, states in identified seismic zones are at much higher risk,” the agency said.

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It’s important to make an emergency plan, according to Ready.gov, a security preparedness website created by the U.S. government.

Create a family emergency communication plan that has “an out-of-state contact,” the site advised.

The site said it’s important to “plan where to meet if separated.”

Rescuers carry a body bag containing a victim of an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Ready.gov advises creating an emergency supply kit and family communication plan in case of an earthquake.

Rescuers carry a body bag containing a victim of an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Ready.gov advises creating an emergency supply kit and family communication plan in case of an earthquake.
(Azhari Surahman/Associated Press)

The site also advises that you prepare a supply kit containing food and water “for several days” along with a flashlight, a fire extinguisher and a whistle.

Before an earthquake, people should take steps to secure furniture — including mirrors and bookshelves — that could potentially injure or kill someone if those items were to topple, FEMA said.

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“Most casualties and injuries during an earthquake occur when: people fall while trying to walk or run during the shaking; when they are struck by falling, flying or sliding household items or non-structural debris; and/or when they are struck or trapped by collapsing walls or other parts of the building,” FEMA said.

Unsecured items fell to the ground during an earthquake in Alaska.  FEMA recommends securing all possible items - if there is time - before an earthquake.

Unsecured items fell to the ground during an earthquake in Alaska. FEMA recommends securing all possible items – if there is time – before an earthquake.
(AP/David Harper)

To prevent this, FEMA suggests going on a “hazard hunt” to identify potential areas to secure in the event of an earthquake.

This includes shelving, cabinets, mirrors, frames and cabinet doors.

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“Take the time now to protect critical documents and take pictures or videos of your belongings,” FEMA said, noting that this will make it easier to work with an insurance company later.

Before an earthquake, the agency recommends that people practice the “drop, cover and hold on” technique in case an earthquake occurs.

After an earthquake, don't go outside until the shaking has stopped and debris is no longer falling, FEMA advises.

After an earthquake, don’t go outside until the shaking has stopped and debris is no longer falling, FEMA advises.
(AP Photo/Armando Solis)

This technique involves getting down on your hands and knees, covering your head and neck with your arms, and hanging on to something sturdy until the earthquake ends.

“During an earthquake, minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place,” the document said.

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“If you’re indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you’re sure it’s safe to leave.”

Anyone outdoors during an earthquake should try to move away from buildings, power lines and street lights, FEMA said.

“When in the open, drop, cover and hold on,” the document said.

It may be advisable to go inside a building to avoid being hit by debris, FEMA said.

After an earthquake has ended, smaller “aftershocks” may occur, the agency noted.

Be careful and continue to monitor the news to be aware of any further updates.

Individuals should remain cautious and continue to monitor the news to be aware of any further updates.

Those living near the sea should remain vigilant in case of a tsunami, it also said.

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“Once the shaking has stopped, wait one minute before getting up and then look around for debris or other hazards,” FEMA said.

“If you are able to move safely to exit the building and there is an open space to go to, exit the building avoiding damaged areas and downed power lines.”

In this July 7, 2019, file photo, a visitor takes a photo of a crack in the ground after an earthquake near Ridgecrest, California.

In this July 7, 2019, file photo, a visitor takes a photo of a crack in the ground after an earthquake near Ridgecrest, California.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

A person trapped after an earthquake should not move or shout, as this increases the risk of inhaling dust.

The call should be made “only as a last resort.”

“Tap a pipe or wall, or use a whistle if available, so rescuers can find you,” FEMA added.

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An earthquake can damage utility lines.

So FEMA advises having gas, sewer and water lines inspected after an earthquake to make sure they are working properly.

Because of the risk of gas fires, no one should use a lighter or matches near a damaged area, the agency said.

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