City Offices:

304 S. Main Street
Noble, OK 73068


How to Prepare for an Earthquake

First, let me say that the earthquakes we receive in Oklahoma are frequent but relatively weak.  This is a known factor, and I would have told you the very same thing several years ago before the recent spike in earthquake numbers started.  Even the worst Oklahoma ‘quakes don’t really do too much in the way of damage.  Yes, they’re a bit noisy.  Yes, they make things shake.  Yes, they shake things off of the wall and/or off of shelves.  But for the most part they really aren’t much of a threat to your safety (again, talking Oklahoma here, different story in California…).  The trick here is to make sure that there isn’t anything that can fall on you, which is how most of the injuries during an earthquake occur.


Now, to prepare (from


        Fasten shelves securely to walls.

        Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.

        Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.

        Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.

        Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.

        Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.

        Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.

        Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.

        Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.

        Be sure your residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.

        Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.

        Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall.


During an event, DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON.  Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place.  If you’re indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure that exiting is safe.


If Indoors:

        DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

        Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

        Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

        Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection..

        Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

        DO NOT use the elevators.

        Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.


If Outdoors:

        Stay there.

        Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

        Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.


If in a Moving Vehicle:

        Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.

        Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.


A couple of additional notes:

·         Please don’t call 9-1-1 just  to report an earthquake.  DO call if there is someone hurt or if you need emergency response from the police or fire departments or the ambulance.

·         Make sure you have an emergency kit and a family communications plan (see me if you need help with this).

·         There has been an email floating around talking about a “triangle of life”.  The experts I trust – USGS, FEMA, American Red Cross - say that this is totally misguided.


Again, you should be fine as long as you stay calm and are somewhere that things won’t fall on you.


Gary Bonner

Noble Fire Department