Skip to main content


Idaho is a semi-active earthquake zone. Any action taken before, during, and immediately following an earthquake might mean the difference between life and death.

In Case of Earthquakes

Before the Tremor

Most casualties result from a partial building collapse or falling objects and debris (e.g., toppling chimneys, falling bricks, ceiling plaster, and light fixtures). Take steps beforehand to inspect your home and office for any potential hazards.

  1. Secure fixtures such as lights, cabinets, bookcases, and top-heavy objects to resist moving, coming loose, or falling during a tremor. 
  2. Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.  
  3. Securely fasten shelves and bookcases to walls.  
  4. Remove hazardous objects from above sleeping areas. 
  5. Do not hang plants in heavy pots that might swing free of a hook. 
  6. Store bottled goods, glass, and other breakables in low or closed cabinets. Use nonskid padded mats, hold-fast putty, or Velcro whenever possible.  
  7. Prepare an office or home emergency kit. 

During a Tremor

  1. Don’t panic. Though the motion is frightening, stay calm. Tremors are relatively harmless.  
  2. Stay away from glass. 
  3. Do not use candles, matches, or other open flames during or after the tremor. Douse all fires. 
  4. Do not be surprised if the electricity goes out. 
  5. If you are outside, move away from buildings and utility wires. Once you’re in an open area, stay there until the shaking stops. 
  6. Do not run through or near buildings. The greatest danger from falling debris is just outside doorways and close to outer walls. 
  7. If you’re in a vehicle, stop as safety permits. Stay in the vehicle. The car will move a great deal, but it is a relatively safe place to be. 
  8. Drop, Cover, and Hold On. ShakeOut recommends in most situations, if you feel shaking or get an earthquake alert, immediately
    • DROP where you are onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and reduces your chances of being hit by falling or flying objects.  
    • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand.  
      • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath for shelter. 
      •  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 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 until the shaking stops.

After a Tremor

  1. Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of a life-threatening injury. 
  2. If the building is severely damaged, leave it immediately.  
  3. Do not turn on utilities, including light switches.  
  4. Do not use any type of open flame for lighting purposes.
  5. If you smell gas, open windows and leave the building. Do not re-enter buildings until officials say it's safe. 
  6. Avoid making phone calls. It’s natural to want to reach out to friends and family after an earthquake, but a text will have a better chance of getting through than a call. Too many calls can overload the communications grid, making it harder for first responders to help those in need. Likewise, do not call 911 unless you’re experiencing a true emergency to leave that system available for those who need it. If you don't have power, you'll also want to save your phone's battery power for when you need it most.
  7. Do not go sightseeing to view damage after an earthquake.  
  8. Watch or listen for updates by phone or on the radio.
  9. Keep streets clear for emergency vehicles. 
  10. Be prepared for aftershocks. Most of these are smaller than the main earthquake, but some may be large enough to do additional damage.  
  11. Cooperate with public safety officials. Do not go into damaged areas unless your help is requested. 

If You Are Driving When an Earthquake Happens

Follow the advice from ShakeOut:

  1. Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake.  
  2. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. 
  3. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops, then proceed carefully by avoiding fallen debris, cracked or shifted payment, and emergency vehicles. 
  4. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire. 

    Other Hazards

    Additional hazards exist at the university due to a number of chemicals and gas lines in laboratories and other facilities. Leave the area immediately if chemical containers are broken or if gas lines or tanks are ruptured.

    In case of severe damage or loss of life, the Campus Emergency Coordination Team will implement emergency procedures as soon as possible. The director will coordinate all campus operations and activities. Housing, food, medical care, and other emergency provisions will be made as needed.