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Natural Disasters


Always call 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.

USA earthquake zones

Information on this page will help you understand environmental dangers related to earthquakes, what you can do to prepare and recover. It will also help you recognize possible environmental hazards and learn what you can do to protect your and your family’s health. Find general, non-emergency information about earthquakes from the U.S. Geological Survey.


Prepare for an earthquake

Other sites related to preparedness

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and usually without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake.

Drinking water and food:

For water and wastewater facilities:

Suggested activities to help facilities prepare. Please note, the linked information is written for hurricane preparedness but much of it will still apply to earthquake preparedness activities.

Planning for disaster debris:

Damage from an earthquake depends on the size, extent, and other factors. Damage debris can include destroyed structures, hazardous waste, green waste, or personal property. More information

Chemical or fertilizer storage:

Properly designed or modified storage facilities enhance worker safety and minimize the risk contamination.

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Other sites related to earthquakes
FEMA: What to do during an earthquake

During an earthquake

Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Earthquakes in coastal areas can cause a tsunami.


Recover after an earthquake

After an earthquake, expect aftershocks. Stay away from damaged areas. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, or other flammable liquids immediately.

Other sites related to recovery

People get sick or die each year from carbon monoxide or "CO" poisoning due to unsafe use of generators.

Indoor air:

Broken gas lines greatly increase the risk of fire, explosion, or poor air quality. If you smell gas, open windows and shut off the main gas line. Notify the utility or other authorities.

Boil Drinking Water

If your water may not be safe, bring drinking water to a rolling boil for 1 minute to kill water-borne diseases.

More information | en español

Drinking water and food:

For water and wastewater facilities:

Suggested activities to help facilities recover from severe weather conditions. Please note, the linked information is written for hurricane recovery but much of it will still apply to earthquake recovery activities.

Pesticides, chemical, and oil spills, hazardous waste:

  • Call the National Response Center 1-800-424-8802 (24 hours a day every day). For those without 800 access, please call 202-267-2675.
  • Industries and businesses that encounter spills or discharges in the aftermath should contact the National Response Center immediately. You or your organization may have legal requirements for reporting or for taking other actions, depending on the spill.
  • National Pesticide Information Center: 1-800-858-7378. Pesticide contacts
  • General information about environmental emergencies

What to do with disaster debris:

Disasters can generate tons of debris, including building rubble, soil and sediments, green waste (e.g., trees and shrubs), personal property, ash, and charred wood. How a community manages disaster debris depends on the debris generated and the waste management options available. Burying or burning is no longer acceptable, except when permission or a waiver has been granted, because of the side effects of smoke and fire from burning, and potential water and soil contamination from burial. Typical methods of recycling and solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills often cannot be applied to disaster debris because of the large volume of waste and reluctance to overburden existing disposal capacity. More information
Disposing of debris from FEMA

Post-disaster clean-up and renovation:

Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes or floods often result in the need for emergency renovations to damaged homes and other structures. When common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition occur in structures that contain lead-based paint, they can release lead-based paint hazards, including lead-contaminated dust. Lead-based paint dust and debris are hazardous to everyone - adults, particularly pregnant women, and children.

Asbestos is still found in many residential and commercial buildings. During demolitoin or renovation, workers must understand the risks and know how to handle asbestos-containing materials safely. Exposure to asbestos dust can cause serious diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.

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