An earthquake could be described as an ‘assault-with-no-warning’. Because an earthquake is unpredictable, here are some survival tips for citizens.

Ideally, each household should store enough food, water, medications and batteries to hold out for several days before help arrives following a major earthquake or other catastrophe. To let responders know whether somebody inside needs assistance or can manage on their own, the city of Eureka urges people to make or obtain window signs that read “HELP” or “OK.” To Download a sign click here:  Ok/Help Sign


The New Madrid Seismic Zone caused the three largest earthquakes in the continental United States in 811-12. Every year, Southeast Missouri experiences over 200 measured events – some of which are large enough to be felt by local residents. An earthquake can be described as an “assault-with-no warning.” Because a New Madrid Earthquake is unpredictable, it is important for citizens to take steps to educate and protect themselves from an earthquake.


  • Identify safe spots and danger zones in each room.
  • Consider buying earthquake insurance.
  • Buy a 20-gallon garbage can to store drinking water, canned food, flashlights, first aid supplies, a battery operated radio, seasonal clothing and blankets. It may also become your “go kit” if you need to leave your home.
  • Know where and how to shut off all utilities.
  • Be sure your house is firmly anchored to its foundation.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.
  • Store bottled foods, glass, china and other breakable items on low shelves or in cabinets that can fasten shut.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Fasten bookshelves to walls.
  • Brace high and top heavy objects.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas and inflexible utility connections.
  • Securely fasten water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
  • Keep some cash on hand, banks may not be open and businesses may not be able to immediately accept credit cards for purchases.
  • Establish a savings account for post catastrophic expenses not covered by earthquake insurance.


  • If indoors, take cover under sturdy furniture or against an inside wall, hold on, “Drop, Cover and Hold.” Stay away from the kitchen!
  • If outdoors, stay there. Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
  • In a high-rise building, take cover under sturdy furniture away from windows and outside walls.
  • Stay in the building on the same floor. An evacuation may not be necessary .Wait for instructions from safety personnel. Do not use elevators.
  • In a vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses or utility wires.


  • Check for injuries to yourself and those around you.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Wear sturdy shoes in areas covered with fallen debris and broken glass.
  • If the electricity is out, use flashlights or battery operated lanterns.
  • Check the main utility panel.  If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, open a window and leave the building.
  • Shut off the main gas valve outside the building.
  • If water pipes are damaged, shut off the water supply at the main valve.
  • Check your home, your chimney for structural damage and your appliances for damage.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids.
  • Do not flush toilets until you know the sewage lines are intact.
  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can falloff shelves.
  • Use the phone only to report a life-threatening emergency.
  • Listen to the news reports for the latest emergency information.
  • Stay off the streets, do not go sightseeing.


FEMA Recommends Drop, Cover and Hold On:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reiterates its long-standing advice for staying as safe as possible during an earthquake. It’s easy to remember and even easier to do: DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

Following the spread of an Internet/Email rumor that contradicts the advice given by FEMA, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a number of other agencies about the proper actions to take during an earthquake, FEMA has been asked for clarification on its policy. We continue to advocate DROP, COVER and HOLD ON as the safest action when the earth begins to shake.

Research has shown that most injuries in U.S. earthquakes occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave. Quickly seeking a place of safety, such as under a sturdy table or desk, and moving as short a distance as possible to that place of safety, is recommended based on research.

In the 2003 San Simeon, California, earthquake, two people were crushed by falling debris when they ran from the building. Studies of the 1979 El Centro, 1987 Whittier, 1989 Loma Prieta, and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, as well as mounting evidence from earthquakes outside the United States, confirm this pattern of injuries. DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON reduces the likelihood of serious injury from falling objects.

Other recommendations, which are contrary to the DROP, COVER and HOLD ON advice, have been made by individuals with limited expertise and questionable credibility. Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON at school, in the office, and other buildings so that when the earth shakes, you’ll be ready.


Educate your children about earthquake safety too. Teach your children what to do if an earthquake occurs. Teach your children about the safest places in your home or at school. To take an American Red Cross CPR or First Aid class, call Eureka Fire Protection District at 636-938-5505.  For classes being offered by the Eureka Emergency Management Agency related to disaster preparedness, click here for class information. What you learn now might save your life or the lives of family members or neighbors. Contact Chief Mike Wiegand at 636-938-6600 or by emailiing at