When the shaking starts, your first instinct may be to run. But instead, experts say your first thought should be to drop.
Before you do anything else, drop to your hands and knees to keep yourself from falling, then find cover. Your best bet is to crawl underneath a sturdy table or desk.
If you don’t have one, get next to an interior wall, away from windows, and cover your head and neck with your arms.
Then hold on to whatever your can, while keeping your head covered, until the shaking stops.
You may have heard to stand in a doorway, experts say in modern homes, door frames are no stronger than other parts of the home and they can leave you exposed to falling debris.
For most people, there’s a two-out-of-three chance you’ll be at home when the big earthquake strikes, according to Oregon State University.
Look around the places where you spend the most time in your house and ask yourself where you could take cover in case of an earthquake. Do the same thing at work, school, or other places where you spend a lot of time.
There’s also a one-in-three chance you’ll be in bed. In that case, stay there, lie face-down to protect your organs, cover your head and neck with a pillow and your hands.
What will the big one feel like?
If you haven’t been through an earthquake, it’s hard to imagine just what it will be like, but previous big earthquakes can give us some perspective.
When the magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit southern California in the summer of 2019, people described an intense shaking, and before many realized what was going on, it was over.
When the big one hits the Pacific Northwest, you can expect to feel it for much longer.
Doctor Chris Goldfinger with Oregon State University has studied earthquakes in our area for more than a decade. He says you can expect to feel a persistent shaking for three to five minutes.
“It would also feel much more like you're on a boat dock, just sort of a rolling motion, and less of the sharp rattles and shocks,” said Goldfinger.
Of course when your home starts shaking, you'll also be dodging falling items. It’s a good idea to secure your space now.
Pay close attention to the areas where your family spends the most time. Ask yourself what heavy items could fall and hurt you.
Consider moving bookcases and shelves away from places where you sit or sleep. Also move heavy items to lower shelves.
UCLA did a study on the 1994 Northridge Quake in California and found 55% of the injuries from it were from falling furniture or objects.
Learn more about securing your space here.