Be Smart. Know your hazard.

Earthquakes can occur suddenly and be deadly. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects. For more information on how to prepare for an earthquake, download the How to Prepare for an Earthquake Guide which provides the basics of earthquakes, explains how to protect yourself and your property and details the steps to take now so you can act quickly in the event of an earthquake.

Earthquake Basics


An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time. Initial mild shaking may strengthen and become extremely violent within seconds.


Earthquakes happen along cracks in the earth's surface, called fault lines, and can be felt over large areas. All 50 states and 5 U.S. territories are at some risk for earthquakes.


Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year and occur without warning, although they usually last less than one minute. Earthquakes cannot be predicted — although scientists are working on it!

Know your risk: 

Do you want to have a better understanding of the risk for earthquakes in the area you live? Below is a map that shows the forecasted frequency of earthquake shaking as identified by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) data that shows the frequency of the minimal level of shaking where injuries become common as a result of damage.