Main Content

Fact Sheet: Earthquake Information for People with Disabilities

Release date: 
February 3, 2020
Release Number: 
DR-4437-PR FS-01

During earthquakes, secondary aftershocks are usually less violent than the main earthquake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.


  • During an earthquake, Drop, Cover, Hold On and minimize your movements.

  • If you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe. Cover your head and neck with your arms or a pillow until the shaking stops.

  • People with disabilities who cannot drop, should still cover and hold on. People who use wheelchairs should lock their wheels and not try to transfer during shaking.


  • Aftershocks may cause anxiety or stress. If you are feeling anxious, there are places to get help.

    • Call the Primera Ayuda Sicosocial (PAS) at 800-981-0023 to speak a crisis counselor.

    • ­­Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (for Spanish, press 2 or text Hablanos to 66746). The TTY number for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, 800-846-8517.


  • Plan how to evacuate with hearing aids, walking canes, and other assistive devices and how to replace equipment if lost or destroyed. Keep model information and note where the equipment came from such as Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance.

  • Plan how you will communicate with others if your equipment is not working, including laminated cards with phrases and pictures.

  • Visit the FEMA Facebook page to view sign language videos for the deaf. This includes: Emergency kits, Preparedness and Response in an earthquake and Flyers.

  • Deaf organizations use text messages as a means of communication.

  • If you have a communications disability, let people know the best way to communicate with you in an emergency.

  • Keep Braille/text communication cards, if used, for two-way communication.

  • Have pen and paper in case you have to communicate with someone who does not know sign language.

  • Prepare how to use medical equipment if a power outage occurs. ­

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has online tools to help people locate and access their electronic health records from a variety of sources.

  • Plan for children with disabilities and people who may have difficulties in loud and busy environments.

Last Updated: 
February 3, 2020 - 14:01