During an earthquake

During an earthquake:

Drop, Cover, Hold

When shaking begins, if possible: Drop, Cover and Hold.


  • Drop down to the floor
  • Take Cover under a table or desk, or cover your head and neck with your arms
  • Hold on to the leg or other part of the furniture until the shaking stops
  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, drop, cover and hold. Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in New Zealand you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops
  • If you are in an elevator, drop, cover and hold. When the shaking stops, try and get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so
  • If you are outside, move no more than a few steps away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines, then drop, cover and hold
  • If you are at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake
  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling debris or landslides.

If you are unable to Drop, Cover and Hold

  • Get as low as possible and move away from windows or other items that can fall on you
  • If you use a wheelchair; lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops
  • Do not try to move from your wheelchair, chair, or bed during the shaking. Wait for the shaking to stop before transferring
  • If you are in bed, pull the sheets and blankets over you and use your pillow to protect your head
  • Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available

People with physical disabilities or movement limitations

The shaking motion may increase difficulties for those with mobility or balance issues.

  • Get to the floor in a seated position, and against an inside wall if possible
  • Protect your head and neck with your arms.

People who are deaf or with hearing impairments:

  • Before an emergency, develop an emergency plan - including building a personal support network
  • Ask your personal support network to alert you to warnings and keep you informed of updates

People who are blind or vision impaired

Earthquakes can cause items to fall and furniture to shift. Regular sound clues may not be available afterwards. Move with caution.

Safe places in an earthquake

  • Somewhere close to you, no more than a few steps or less than three metres away from where you are, to avoid injury from flying debris.
  • Under a strong table. Hold on to the table legs to keep it from moving away from you.
  • Next to an interior wall, away from windows that can shatter and cause injury and tall furniture that can fall on you.
  • Keep in mind that in modern homes, doorways aren't stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that can swing and injure you.
  • Protect your head and neck with your arms.