Key Earthquake Safety Tips for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs

From the Earthquake Country Alliance

During earthquake shaking, protect yourself from falling objects.


DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.

COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand.

  • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it.
  • If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall.
  • Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs.

HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

  • Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts
  • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.


If you have difficulty getting onto the ground, or cannot get back up again without the help of a caregiver, then follow these recommendations:

  • If you are in a recliner or bed: Cover your head and neck with your arms or a pillow until the shaking stops.
  • If you use a cane: Drop, Cover, and Hold On or sit on a chair, bed, etc. and cover your head and neck with both hands. Keep your cane near you so it can be used when the shaking stops.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair: LOCK your wheels, if applicable.
  • If using a walker carefully get as low as possible. Bend over and COVER your head/neck with your arms, a book, or a pillow. Then HOLD ON during shaking.

Learn more about how to be safe during earthquakes at:

People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:

Prior to an earthquake, identify and test multiple ways to receive warnings and evacuation information.

People who are Blind or have Low Vision:

Earthquakes can cause items to fall and furniture to shift. Regular sound clues may not be available afterwards. Move with caution.

People with Developmental/Cognitive/Intellectual Disabilities:

If you have difficulty understanding, remembering, or learning, keep a simple list of what to do and important information with you and in your kits. Practice your plan in advance. If you use augmentative communication supports, include these in your planning.

Additional Disaster Preparedness Recommendations:

  • Develop or update your individual and family plans, including your communication plans and important contacts.
  • Make emergency go kits for your home, car, and office. Remember to make kits for service animals and pets too. Store extra batteries and any needed supplies in your kits.
  • Label adaptive equipment or other devices with your contact information in case they are separated from you.
  • Create safe spaces by securing heavy furniture and other items that could fall, injure you, or block your way out.
  • Build a Personal Support Team, PST, to check on you in case you need assistance. Include them in all phases of your planning.
  • Get involved! Volunteer with your local Community Emergency Response Team, CERT, or similar organizations in your area.
  • If you live near or visit the beach, be aware of tsunami evacuation routes and learn what to do to protect yourself. Practice tsunami evacuations with your care provider or support team.
  • Hold drills at home, work, and in your community regularly. Invite your PST and care providers to join you.

Learn more: