Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On

The previous steps have concentrated on getting ready for the next earthquake or tsunami.

What should you do while the ground is shaking?


Drop, cover, and hold on

  • Drop down to the floor and take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture.
  • Hold on to the table or desk and be prepared to move with it—hold the position until the ground stops shaking and it is safe to move.

If there is no nearby table or desk:

  • Sit on the floor against an inside wall, away from windows, tall furniture or bookcases.
  • Protect your head and neck with your arms.
  • If you are elderly or have mobility impairment, remain where you are, bracing yourself in place.
  • Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and cabinets with heavy objects or glass.


In Bed

If you are in bed, stay there, hold on and protect your head with a pillow.

In a Multistory Building

Drop, cover, and hold on. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.

If you are Outside

Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles and other hazards.

two people under a table holding on


Pull over to the side of the road, stop and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, powerlines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If power lines fall on your vehicle, stay inside until a trained person removes them.

If you are in a Theater or Stadium

Stay at your seat.

Duck down and protect your head and neck with your arms. If you can’t duck under the seat, at least put your head and upper body under the seat. Don’t try to leave until the shaking stops. Then exit slowly, watching for fallen debris or for anything that could fall on you in the aftershocks. Stay calm and encourage others to do likewise.

If you are in the Mountains

Avoid unstable slopes or cliffs and watch for falling rock and debris.