Be prepared for an earthquake

Last week’s earthquake in California is a good reminder that we need to be prepared for an earthquake in Washington state. Our goal is always to continue providing as many County services as possible in an emergency, while also ensuring the safety of our employees. When reporting to work, remember to let safety be your guide for commute decisions and while doing your job, and check with your supervisor or manager for specific information or directions.

Please follow these general tips on earthquake preparedness both at home and at work:

Before an earthquake

  • Predetermine safe places in your home where you could DROP, COVER, and HOLD, during an earthquake. This could include under a sturdy desk or table.
  • At work, make sure under your desk is free of clutter, so if an earthquake happens, you have room to DROP, COVER, and HOLD.
  • Make sure all your bookshelves, dressers, and other tall pieces of furniture are attached to a wall stud.
  • NEVER store heavy items on top of bookshelves or storage shelves. Store the heaviest items on the bottom.
  • Know how your family will communicate and where you will meet if separated
  • Build an emergency kit with basic supplies and don’t forget supplies for your pets. Find checklists and tips at org.
  • Make sure your furnace and water heater are attached to the wall.

During an earthquake

  • Keep calm. Do not run or panic.
  • DROP low, COVER your head and HOLD. Remain where you are. If indoors, take shelter under your desk, table, doorway or stairwell. Stay away from windows, outside doors or other potential trouble spots.
  • Wait until the shaking stops, if your building is safe to stay in – STAY. If you have to exit, always take the stairs.
  • If outdoors, do not attempt to enter any buildings until authorities say they are safe. Stay away from overhead electric wires, power poles or other potential hazards.
  • If you are in a vehicle, slow down and drive to a clear space away from overpasses, power lines, buildings, and trees. Stay in your vehicle.
  • If you are trapped in an elevator, keep calm and do not panic. Emergency help has likely been notified. The structure of the elevator will be checked before the elevator is turned back on.
  • Listen to your weather radio or keep a local TV/radio station on for information and emergency instructions.

After an earthquake

  • Authorities will provide instructions and status as soon as possible. When deemed safe, an “all clear” will be given.
  • Use extreme caution entering buildings or work areas.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks. Usually these are weaker than the main quake, but they may cause great damage because of structures, poles or trees weakened by the main quake.
  • Do not use open flame or sparking devices until advised that there are no gas leaks.
  • Stay away from fallen or damaged electrical wires.
  • Avoid making phone calls, except to report a 9-1-1 emergency. To contact family, try text messaging first.
  • Do not use elevators during or immediately after an earthquake.

KING COUNTY EMPLOYEES: General preparedness information at work