Earthquake Checklist

An earthquake is a sudden motion of the earth’s surface, faulting, and ground failure. The general effects of an earthquake include structural damage to bridges, buildings, port and harbor facilities, airport facilities, utilities, and communications systems. In addition, an earthquake that registers between 6.0 and 8.0 on the Richter scale may be expected to result in additional natural/environmental disasters such as tsunamis, floods and landslides; industrial/technological emergencies, such as fires, explosions, and hazardous materials incidents; disruptions of vital services such as water, sewer, power, gas and transportation; damage to and disruption of emergency response facilities, resources and systems; civil and political emergencies such as looting, and damage to water impoundment structures.

The Island of Oahu is located in a zone that is predicted to have moderate earthquakes on a relatively frequent basis. It is not possible to accurately predict neither earthquakes nor their potential severity. Refer to the checklists below for emergency preparedness and response for earthquake hazards.


☐ Examine the structure for possible hazards and then correct them. Anything that can move, break or fall when the building starts to shake is a potential hazard.

☐ Anchor tall bookcases and other top-heavy furniture to wall studs using metal angle braces (“L” brackets) and lag screws. Also, examine tall bookcases to determine how much will fall off the shelves. Be sure that all of the shelves are fastened.

☐ Block the rollers of heavy equipment or other appliances to prevent them fro moving. Add bracing to support air conditioners, particularly on rooftops.

☐ Put closed hooks on any hanging items. Also make sure that hanging items cannot hit a window if they begin to swing during the quake. Do not hang things where they will fall on people.

☐ Replace any glass bottles with plastic containers.

☐ Secure cabinet doors and drawers with latches that will prevent them from opening during an earthquake.

☐ Anchor heavy pictures or wall hangings with wire-through-eye screws drilled into studs.

☐ Locate desks away from windows.

☐ Make sure that flammable liquids are stored away from heat sources and appliances.

☐ Secure gas lines by installing flexible connectors to appliances.

☐ Secure your hot water heater by fastening it to the wood studs of the nearest wall with thin metal straps (plumber’s tape).

☐ Make sure that the roof has solid sheathing. If not, consider adding a plywood shield to ceiling joists.

☐ Make sure that all roof tiles are secured.

☐ Check the building foundation for cracks. Make sure the building is bolted to its foundation.

☐ Sheath foundation “cripple walls” with plywood to prevent collapse.

☐ Strengthen connections between posts and beams with metal T-straps.

☐ Keep breakables, heavy objects; flammable or hazardous liquids in secured cabinets and on lower shelves.

☐ Practice earthquake drills to help everyone in your house or business to prepare and remember what to do if an earthquake occurs. Also, hold surprise drills.

☐ Identify the location of gas valves, circuit breakers, fire extinguishers, and water valves. Know how to operate them in the event of an emergency.

☐ Know the safest places in each room of your home or workplace.

☐ Prepare an emergency survival kit of food, water and supplies.

☐ Keep up to date with you and your family’s immunizations.

☐ Store valuable documents and valuables in a fireproof safe or a in security deposit box.

☐ Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated during the quake.

☐ Choose an out-of-state friend or relative that separated family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and condition.

☐ Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) from your local Red Cross chapter or other community organization.

☐ Keep bicycles in good condition.


☐ If indoors, DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Do not run outside. Injury statistics show that people moving as little as 10 feet during an earthquake’s shaking are most likely to be injured. Take refuge by: 1) standing or crouching in a strong, supported hallway, 2) getting under a sturdy desk, table or other heavy object, or 3) bracing yourself in an inside corner of the building.

☐ Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

☐ Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, load bearing doorway.

☐ Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

☐ Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

☐ DO NOT use the elevators.

☐ Stay away from bookcases, cabinets, or other objects that may topple or slide.

☐ Do not stand under any suspended objects, such as ceiling light fixtures that may fall.

☐ Stay away from heating units, stoves, fireplaces, and areas where bricks might fall from the chimney.

☐ Stay clear of spaces that could be blocked by falling debris.

☐ If in a multiple story building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Do not use elevators.

☐ If outdoors, stay there. Move to any open area, away from anything that could fall, such as trees, poles, power lines or buildings.

☐ Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

☐ If driving a vehicle, pull to a safe location and remain in the car until the shaking has stopped. Avoid parking near or under power lines, buildings, overpasses or other objects that may collapse. When the quaking has stopped, proceed cautiously, avoiding bridges and other elevated structures which might have been damaged or could be further damaged by aftershocks.

☐ If in a crowded place, do not rush for the doors. Crouch and cover your head with your hands and arms.

☐ If you are in a wheelchair, stay in it. Move for cover under a hallway or small room, lock the wheels and protect your head.


☐ Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days, living without running water, electricity and/or gas, telephones and assistance from safety services.

☐ Examine your surroundings to identify any immediate hazards. Evacuate the building if there is potential for collapse.

☐ Check for gas and water leaks, broken or down electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source. Immediately report gas leaks to your utility company and do not use candles, open flame or flares.

☐ Check for injuries and trapped people and render first aid and/or notify the local emergency or medical services as soon as possible. Do not attempt to move those who are seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger.

☐ If there is damage to the streets, stay where you are and report your location to the dispatcher by radio if possible.

☐ Be prepared for aftershocks. Be aware of potential Tsunami.

☐ Do not use the telephone unless it is absolutely necessary, e.g., a serious injury or fire. Phone lines will be jammed with emergency calls.

☐ Begin to identify available shelter and provisions if you are going to be isolated for some time.

☐ Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports. For your own safety, cooperate fully with public officials and safety instructions.

☐ Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.