Be prepared for an earthquake

This morning’s magnitude 4.6 earthquake near Monroe, Wash., is a good reminder that we need to be prepared for an earthquake in our region. Our goal is to ensure the safety of our employees and continue to provide as many County services as possible in an emergency. Here are some general tips on earthquake preparedness 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
  • 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.

At work

  • Talk to your supervisor about your role in an emergency and know how to contact your supervisor.
  • If adjusting a work schedule, working at an alternative location, teleworking, or taking vacation are options for your job, please discuss beforehand with your supervisor. Visit our telework website and familiarize yourself with AnyConnect, our VPN tool.
  • Learn about leave and pay policies in HR Bulletin 2011-0009 County Operations During Emergency Situations and Inclement Weather.
  • Update your home phone number, cell phone number, and personal email addresses in PeopleSoft. 

Stay informed

  • KC Inform – King County’s employee emergency notification system. Make sure you can be reached in a major emergency, at home or at work. If you haven’t yet registered your personal contact or work cell information in KCInform, please contact anytime or 206-296-3830 between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday to request your unique registration link. Watch this short video to learn more or visit our website.
  • ALERT King County – our region’s public information and notification system. This public opt-in system is used to quickly and broadly communicate important information regarding emergency situations, threats to public health and safety, and impacts to critical infrastructure. Use it to register your physical home and work addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers so you can receive geo-targeted text and voice alerts wherever you are. Register here.

Other resources

Visit the Emergency News page at for regional impacts.