EARTHQUAKE PLANNING FOR SCHOOL OFFICIALS
day care centers and colleges should prepare for a major
damaging earthquake. In such an event, school administrators
and teachers will have to be self-sufficient –
relying on their own resources – to protect and
care for the student population and the immediate surrounding
communities until outside assistance is available.
California the education code requires public and private
schools K-12 to develop emergency plans and to conduct
“drop, cover and hold” drills. New Jersey’s
school children and their families should focus on earthquake
safety and preparedness measures. Some of these measures
Conducting a school drill to test emergency plans
and procedures. Make sure you test communications
systems, evacuation plans, search and rescue activities
and first aid techniques. (For planning assistance,
contact your city or county Office of Emergency Management.)
Securing and anchoring school equipment and furniture–including
bookshelves, cabinets, computers and typewriters–that
may present a threat during an earthquake.
Encouraging all school staff and students to prepare
an earthquake emergency plan for their families.
Sending information home for parents on the school’s
emergency policies and procedures.
Updating information on “emergency notification
Conducting in-service training workshops on first
aid, shelter management, damage assessment and other
related topics for school staff.
Dedicating a special class or school assembly to the
effects of earthquakes and the importance of proper
Displaying preparedness information at high traffic
areas in your school.
Conducting a hazard hunt in classrooms and offices.
Assembling emergency kits which include important
safety information and first aid supplies.
all-hazard school planning guidance, visit the NJOEM
Family and Community Preparedness Page.
The NJOEM website also contains information on additional
disaster-related websites for school officials.
SINGLE-FAMILY HOME AND COMMUNITY EARTHQUAKE PLANNING
If a major earthquake struck in your area today, you
might be without direct assistance for up to 72 hours.
Are you prepared to be self sufficient? Is your family?
Your neighbor hood?
Individual and Family Preparedness
Know the safe spots in each room–under sturdy
tables, desks or against inside walls.
Know the danger spots–windows, mirrors, hanging
objects, fireplaces, tall furniture.
Conduct practice drills. Physically place yourself
and your children in safe locations.
Learn first aid and CPR ( cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
from your local Red Cross Chapter or other community
Decide where your family will reunite if separated.
Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.
Choose an out-of-state friend or relative whom family
members can call after the quake to report whereabouts
Securing Your Home
Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in
case the lines are damaged.
Check chimneys, roofs, and wall foundations for stability.
Make sure your home is bolted to its foundation. Call
a licensed contractor if there are any questions.
Secure water heaters and appliances that could move
enough to rupture utility lines.
Keep breakable and heavy objects on lower shelves.
Secure hanging plants and heavy picture frames or
mirrors (especially those hanging over beds).
Put latches on cabinet doors to keep them closed during
Keep flammable or hazardous liquids such as paints,
pest sprays or cleaning products in cabinets or secured
on lower shelves.
Maintain emergency food, water and other supplies,
including medicine, first aid kit and clothing.
Neighborhood and Community Preparedness
Suggest that local organizations of which you are
a member undertake a specific preparedness program
or acquire special training to be of assistance in
the event of a damaging earthquake.
Organize a neighborhood earthquake preparedness program.
Conduct training for neighborhood residents in preparedness,
first aid, fire suppression, damage assessment and
search and rescue.
Develop self-help networks between families and neighborhood
through a skills and resource bank which includes
a listing of tools, equipment, materials and neighborhood
members who have special skills and resources to share.
Identify neighbors who have special needs or will
require special assistance.
Have neighbors agree to hang a white flag out after
the quake if everything and everyone is OK.
For more information on Community Emergency Response
Teams (CERT), visit the NJOEM
Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) page.
Be Aware of Your Environment
The safest place in the house:
During an earthquake, stay away from heavy furniture,
appliances, large panes of glass, shelves holding heavy
objects, and masonry veneer ( such as the fireplace).
These items tend to fall or break and can injure you.
Usually, a hallway is one of the safest places if it
is not crowded with objects. Kitchens and garages tend
to be most dangerous. Also know the safest place in
each room. It will be difficult to move from one place
to another during a severe earthquake.
Exits and alternative exits:
Always know the possible ways to exit your house and
workplace in emergency situations.
Location of shutoff valves:
Know the location of the shutoff valves for water, gas
and electricity and how to operate the valves. If you
are not sure, contact your utility company.
Make Special Provisions for -
Older adults, persons with disabilities, those
requiring medication, or people on special diets.
Persons with limited mobility will likely have even
more difficulty moving around after an earthquake. Make
sure they are included in neighborhood emergency plans.
Be sure to store several days supply of medication or
special provisions if needed.
Persons with limited English proficiency. People who
cannot speak English often rely on their family or friends
for information. If they are separated during an earthquake,
they may need help. Prepare emergency cards written
in English indicating identification, address and any
For Pet Owners -
After an earthquake, you should be concerned with your
own safety before taking care of your pets. Storing
extra food and water for pets is always a good idea.
Keep them in a secure place at home after an earthquake.
If you are evacuated, they will not be allowed at the
For more information on Pets and Disaster, click
here [pdf - 156k].
Identify Community Resources
Police and fire - Know the locations of the nearest
police and fire station.
Shelter and medical care - After a damaging earthquake,
emergency shelters and temporary medical centers will
be set up in your community. Contact your local Office
of Emergency Management to find out the plans for
Community plans - Know your neighbors and their skills;
you may be able to help each other after an earthquake.
Also know where to go to help your community after
a disaster. It may be days before outside emergency
assistance arrives. It is important to help each other.
Plan to reunite - Make a plan on where
and how to reunite family members. Choose a person outside
the immediate area to contact if family members are
separated. Long distance phone service will probably
be restored sooner than local service. Remember, don’t
use the phone immediately after an earthquake, and make
phone calls only for emergencies.
Plan for children - Know the policies
of the school or daycare center your children attend.
Make plans to have someone pick them up if, after an
earthquake, you are unable to do so.
Plan Recovery Tasks - There will be
many things to take care of after an earthquake. Make
a plan for your family, friends and neighbors assigning
specific responsibilities to each person. Remember that
it may be difficult to get around after an earthquake,
so each person’s task should be related where
he or she may be.
APARTMENTS AND MOBILE HOMES
The following steps should be taken by owners
Consult local building codes to ensure that your building
meets current seismic safety standards.
Develop an emergency plan for your building or mobile
home park. This plan should include measures for storing
food and water, obtaining first aid training, appointing
floor or area leaders, conducting drills and other
Encourage mobile home residents to better secure their
homes by leaving wheels on homes rather than removing
them, installing structural support bracing systems
and securing the coach’s awnings. A
list of state certified bracing systems is available
from the State Department of Community Affairs.
Provide tenants with information on how to secure
furniture and other household items. Also provide
them with information on what to do during and after
Encourage tenants to develop individual family plans
for shutting off damaged utilities, reuniting family
members and evacuation, if necessary.
Identify residents with special needs–such as
mobility impaired, non-English speaking, elderly,
or hearing and sight impaired–and make sure
their needs are addresed in your emergency plans.
Organize teams that are responsible for first aid,
search and rescue, communications and firefighting.
Compile a list of resources and skills available among
Provide tenants with a white flag or some other distinguishable
sign to be posted after an earthquake if no one in
the apartment or mobile home has suffered serious
Practice earthquake drills in your complex or park.
Find out and inform your tenants where the nearest
mass shelter area is located.
Organize a meeting at which a local emergency and
disaster planner can provide information on earthquake
PREPAREDNESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Develop a “partner” system with family,
friends, neighbors and coworkers. Plan how you will
help each other in an emergency. If you live alone,
you may wish to give your “partner” a key
to your home. Make a list of your medications, allergies,
special equipment, names, addresses and telephone numbers
of your doctor, pharmacy, family members, friends and
any other important information. Give a copy to each
partner and keep a copy with you at all times.
Eliminate hazards in your home wherever possible. Securely
anchor medical equipment, heavy appliances, bookcases,
hanging plants and other items. Place heavy objects
on low shelves. Move beds away from windows.
Check hallways, exits, doorways and other areas and
remove hazards and obstructions which may impede your
safe exit after an earthquake. Install security night
lights to provide emergency lighting if power is interrupted.
Gather emergency supplies.
Assemble a 72 hour emergency supply kit, which includes
water, any special diet foods, sanitary aids, cooking
and eating utensils, flashlight, radio, blankets, a
change of clothing and a whistle for signaling for assistance.
Include a well stocked first aid kit with extra prescription
medications and an extra pair of glasses. Store extra
batteries for hearing aids, wheelchairs and other battery-operated
equipment. Keep a mini-survival kit in your vehicle.
If you are deaf or hearing-impaired, keep a battery-operated
television on hand, with fresh batteries, for receiving
emergency information if power is out. Store flashlight,
pencil and pad for communicating. Arrange for hearing
friends or coworkers to relay information broadcast
by radio. If you are blind or have impaired vision,
keep extra canes in strategic areas around your home.
Plan alternate evacuation routes from home and office.
Store extra pet food and supplies for your service animal.
For comprehensive information about disaster preparedness
for people with disabilities click