Many people (international and domestic) move to California and they don’t know what to do when an earthquake happens because they don’t have them back home. Earthquakes can occur in California at any time without notice. Knowing what to do can reduce the dangers and make a big difference in how an earthquake will affect you.

What to do when an earthquake happens?

If you are INDOORS when shaking starts:

  • “DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON.” If you are not near a strong table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Avoid windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture (filing cabinets and bookshelves), large appliances and cabinets filled with heavy objects.
  • Do not try to run out of your building during strong shaking—you can be killed or injured by falling debris (glass, roof tiles, concrete, etc.).
  • If you are on campus, it is safer to remain inside a building after an earthquake unless there is a fire or gas leak. There are few open spaces in the Westwood area far enough from glass or other falling debris to be considered safe refuge sites. Glass from high-rise buildings does not always fall straight down; it can catch a wind current and travel great distances.
  • If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head with a pillow.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels and cover your head.

If you are OUTDOORS when shaking starts:

  • Move to a clear area if you can safely walk. There are no overhead power lines on the campus, but you should avoid buildings and trees.
  • If you’re driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Avoid stopping under overhead hazards or near buildings.

Once the earthquake shaking stops:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks—they may be frequent and could exceed the first quake.
  • Check the people around you for injuries; provide first aid. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of a gas leak, hazardous material spill, fire or falling debris.
  • Check around you for dangerous conditions such as fires, downed power lines and structure damage.
  • If you have fire extinguishers and are trained to use them, put out small fires immediately.
  • Check your phones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook and are tying up a line.
  • Inspect your residence and work areas for damage.

If you are trapped in debris:

  • Move as little as possible so that you don’t kick up dust. Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Keep a whistle in your emergency kit.
  • If you feel an earthquake, you can visit the USGS Southern California Earthquake Page to report a quake, look for earthquake information, and search other data.


BruinAlert delivers messages on a "best effort" basis to email and SMS text-capable wireless devices, such as most cellular telephones. Effective emergency response requires personal preparedness and planning. While no emergency communications system can be guaranteed to be effective and reliable in every situation, we encourage you to sign up for BruinAlert as one part of your personal emergency preparedness plan.

BruinAlert is a personalized service designed to complement other tools already used by UCLA to advise the campus community during crises or emergencies. Examples include:

  • Mass Notification & Advisory System (E-Mail)
  • SMS Text Messages
  • AM 1630 Radio Station (also simulcast on UCLA TV Channel 3)
  • Cable Television System
  • UCLA Main Web Page and Newsroom
  • Campus Safety Web Page
  • Campus Emergency Management Web Page
  • 1-800-900-UCLA (recorded campus emergency information)
  • Desktop Alerts
  • Outdoor Warning Sirens located on the north campus areas, along BruinWalk, Intramural Field, Residence Halls, and Dickson Court.
  • General Services Outage Notice System

Related Information

More Information on Earthquakes:

UCLA Emergency Management

UCLA General Services / Emergency Management Office
731 Charles E. Young Drive South Los Angeles, CA 90095-1526

Phone:(310) 825-6800

Seismic Safety Commission


Phone:(916) 263-5506