Recent geologic studies show that the Pacific Northwest has experienced very large earthquakes in the past.  The data indicate that earthquakes of a Magnitude 8 or 9 have occurred every 300 to 350 years.  The relatively small (M 6-7) earthquakes experienced during the last two decades near Salem and Klamath Falls are reminders that we need to be aware and prepared for earthquakes here in Oregon.

The most important item to remember in the event of an earthquake is the simple DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON

  • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

Here are items to consider that one may face after an earthquake:

  1. You and those around you may need to be entirely self sufficient for three days or more. You may have to find your own food, water, emergency supplies and possibly shelter.
  2. Your family may not be together, and you will want to contact them, but the phone system may be so overloaded that even emergency calls cannot get through.
  3. Police, fire and ambulance service may be disrupted due to damaged streets and bridges.
  4. You may have to turn off a leaky gas line or other utility at home or work.  Do you and others know where utility shut-offs are located, and how to turn them off?  Do you need any special tools? 
  5. Do you have fire extinguishers, and do you know how to use them?

The following is a brief checklist of things to consider in preparing for a future earthquake or similar emergency.



  1. Check your work area for the best "duck and cover" location, such as a sturdy desk or table (avoid any area near potential dangers such as glass or tall heavy objects).
  2. Prepare your home by placing heavy objects as low as possible on shelves, storing hazardous materials and any breakable items in cabinets with secure clasps, and by knowing where utility shut-offs are located and how to shut them off.
  3. Know the best exit route(s) from your home and work.
  4. Make sure everyone knows emergency phone numbers.
  5. Have emergency supplies available (such as flashlights, fire extinguisher, first aid kits).
  6. Discuss these issues and plans with family and co-workers.


  1. Duck and Cover! IMMEDIATELY, when you know it is an earthquake.
  2. Hold on to your cover such as the table leg, so it does not slide away from you. Cover your head. Face away from windows and other hazards.
  3. If you are INSIDE: DO NOT get under a door frame (this is NEW information from experts!)
  4. DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE! (in fact, you may not be able to run at all!)
  5. If you are in bed, just roll off onto the floor and remain next to the bed
  6. If you are OUTSIDE: stay away from buildings, electrical wires, etc.


  1. Check to see if you and those near you are alright.
  2. Note condition of the building. Is there a gas or water leaks?
  3. With those whom you are responsible, calmly exit the building (note: if injuries are serious, call 911).
  4. Meet at an open area away from obvious hazards.
  5. Be prepared for aftershocks.
  6. If the earthquake was strong enough to cause building damage, do not re-enter the building until given permission by a qualified expert.
  7. Be prepared to review post earthquake realities: lack of utilities and communication, how to connect with family, preserving food, water, etc.

For more information, contact the SOU Environmental Studies Department. (541)552-6496

We wish to thank SOU Environmental Science Professor Eric Dittmer and Harry Smedes, PhD. for providing the information on this site.

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