An earthquake is the shaking or rolling of the earth’s surface. It happens on the fault lines of the Earth’s surface in any weather. Earthquakes can cause tsunamis, floods, home fires, blackouts, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. Earthquakes cannot be predicted. They usually last less than one minute but affect a large area. They can happen at any time of the year in any state. The “Ring of Fire” area in the Pacific Ocean is where most earthquakes occur.

Deadliest in World History:

Occurred in China in 1556

8 magnitude earthquake

Killed 830,000 people

Second deadliest earthquake occurred in 1776 in China

7.5 magnitude earthquake

Caused 665,000 deaths

Deadliest in U.S. History:

Occurred in 1906 in San Francisco, California

7.8 magnitude earthquake

Caused 700 deaths

It is now suspected that 3,000 people died from the earthquake and the aftermath


• Know the safe spots in your house like under a table or against a wall


• If you are inside:

• Get on the ground

• Get under something

• Stay away from furniture and windows

• If you are outside:

• Stay away from anything that could fall on you (trees, buildings)


• Beware of aftershocks (smaller earthquakes) that can occur

• Open things carefully so you aren’t hurt if things fall out


Fault lines: a break in the ground where earthquakes are likely to occur

Richter scale: The Richter scale measures earthquakes from 0.0-10.0. Earthquakes below 2.0 are rarely felt by people. An earthquake of 10.0 has never been recorded.

Source: FEMA: