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Earthquake Safety

Many may believe that earthquakes only shake the grounds out West, but major fault lines do exist in the Midwest and Eastern United States. Protect yourself and your family by reviewing these important safety tips.

Before the Earthquake

Earthquake coverage is available on a homeowners policy only by purchasing an endorsement. Contact your ERIE Agent for further information.

Prepare an earthquake safety kit that can be stored in an accessible location. An earthquake safety kit should include:

  • battery-operated transistor radio
  • extra batteries
  • flashlight
  • candles
  • matches
  • blankets
  • cash/credit cards
  • spare house/car keys
  • canned goods
  • manual can opener
  • first aid kit
  • medicines
  • bottled water
  • sturdy shoes
  • work gloves
  • old textbooks to protect your head from debris
  • Complete an itemized inventory of your belongings and store in a safe place with insurance policies, legal documents and other valuables. Keep these documents in a fireproof box or in a safe deposit box at your bank. As you go through each room, list every item including the date of purchase, price and model or serial numbers. Don’t forget to list the valuable possessions stored in your basement, attic and garage. When photographing or videotaping, take close-ups of big ticket items such as jewelry, unique collections, china, furs, fine art and family heirlooms.
  • Form a neighborhood earthquake watch team. Committee members can be assigned to check on elderly neighbors, perform first aid or look for gas leaks.
  • With your family, designate a safe place in every room where there is no danger of falling objects.
  • Designate an out-of-town friend or family member that you can notify in the event of a catastrophe.
  • Bolt tall furniture and water heater to wall studs.
  • Attach knickknacks and home decor to shelves and tables with Velcro or two-faced tape.
  • Install heavy duty latches on all your cupboards to protect dishes, china and other valuables from damage.
  • Decide where your family will take refuge during an earthquake and hold regular “earthquake drills” to practice getting there.
  • Avoid displaying valuable collections or accent pieces on high shelves and cabinets.


  • If you are outside when the earthquake strikes, stay in an open area away from water, buildings, trees, and utility poles.
  • Wear steel-toed boots or sturdy shoes to protect your feet from broken glass and fallen debris.
  • If you're inside a building, duck under a desk, sturdy table or stand in a doorway. Stay inside until the shaking stops.
  • Be aware of falling plaster, ceiling tiles, chandeliers and overhead light fixtures.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If you are in a wheelchair, stay in it. Move to a doorway, lock your wheels and protect your head and neck.
  • If you are in your car when the earthquake strikes, pull over away from buildings and potentially dangerous objects that could fall on you. Stay away from bridges and overpasses. Remain in your car and protect your head and neck until the shaking stops.


  • Keep all receipts related to repairs and temporary housing.
  • Hold off on permanent repairs until your ERIE adjuster approves your reimbursement.
  • Before rebuilding, obtain the necessary construction permits from your community.
  • Be aware of aftershocks and their hazards. They tend to bring down previously damaged or weak structures.
  • Use the telephone for emergencies only.
  • Check gas, water and electric lines. If the lines are damaged, shut them off immediately. To prevent further damage, don’t use matches, flashlights or electric switches around gas spills. Open the building’s windows, leave the premises and call the gas company.
  • Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • Return to your home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Some shelters reject pets for health reasons. Make sure your pet stays safe by preparing an emergency pen that includes a 3-day supply of dry food and a large bowl of water.

If you have property damage, contact your ERIE Agent or call Erie Insurance at (800) 367-3743 to file a claim 24/7.