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Drop, Cover and Hold

Drop, Cover and Hold

My wife was on the phone when the earthquake hit. She was talking to a friend living in San Francisco, about 30 minutes north of our house. “Oh my God, earthquake,” my wife exclaimed into the phone. “An earthquake?” asked her friend. “Are you sure?”

The earthquake only lasted for a few seconds, just long enough for it to register with my wife and I that it was indeed an earthquake. It didn’t even last long enough for us to react. It was like a huge hand reached out of the sky and gave our house a quick, little shake. A few seconds later my wife’s friend in San Francisco exclaimed into the phone, “Oh my God, earthquake,” as it quickly rolled north from its epicenter.

In the split second the earthquake was shaking our house, I was thinking of training I give to employees at my workplace. In an earthquake, you should drop to the ground, take cover under something solid and hold on for the ride. If there isn’t something solid to take cover under, then crouch down along a wall and cover your head and neck with your arms. Try to avoid exterior walls, windows, mirrors, wall hangings and other objects that might break or fall over in an earthquake.

Not everyone agrees that this is the best technique for surviving an earthquake. Another recommendation is the “Triangle of Life.” However, most authoritative organizations such as the California Offices of Emergency Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey and the American Red Cross recommend drop, cover and hold as the best action to take during in an earthquake.

If you are ever on the phone with someone in the next neighborhood and they yell “earthquake” into the phone, don’t wait–drop, cover and hold.

Read more: Blogs, Health & Safety, Safe Sweet Home

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Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work For and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppy.


+ add your own
4:29AM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Thank you

1:01AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

After having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area or over 20 years, I can tell you theat earthquakes can be scary and surreal experiences. Always do what you can to be prepared.

12:31AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:23AM PST on Dec 27, 2010

Thanks for the info.

2:07AM PDT on Oct 9, 2010

read, sent, and saved

7:38PM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

Thanks for the reminder.

4:38AM PDT on Apr 22, 2010

here in Uk, we are blessed in that, as yet, we don't have to contend with earthquakes- just the odd tremour. It just struck me as so like a woman, me included, to carry on talking on the phone.
Good advice though, to drop, cover and hold.

2:59PM PDT on Apr 20, 2010

thank you

8:42PM PST on Mar 9, 2010

Good advice. Thanks, Andrew.

5:34AM PDT on Jun 24, 2009

I have been through a couple earthquakes, and as the author says, they are very brief. Often so brief that you don't realize what is happening while it is happening. During that split second, of course, horrible things can happen. If you do anything at all, you are more likely to automatically duck and cover than you are to think about Triangle of Life analysis.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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