The San Francisco Bay Area is a highly active seismic region and the Stanford campus is located near the San Andreas Earthquake Fault. Photos from the 1906 earthquake show considerable damage to the Stanford Main Quad. Following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, Stanford embarked on a decade long seismic retrofit program to ensure that campus buildings are able to withstand significant damage in future earthquakes.    We cannot predict exactly when or where earthquakes will occur, but we can be prepared for them.

The University has developed earthquake response and recovery strategies to protect the campus and resume teaching and research as soon as possible.  But, at its core, the University is made up of people who live, work and study here.  So, as a member of the Stanford community, students, faculty and staff should know:

Following an earthquake, undergraduate students are instructed to return to their residence in order to check-in with staff and be accounted for as safe. This check-in is also a way to connect with friends and get more information about the emergency.

During an earthquake, if you are indoors:

  • Immediately “duck, cover, and hold” under a desk, table or chair,  between seating rows in classrooms, against a corridor wall.
  • If your are unable to get under something, cover your head with your arms to help protect against falling objects.
  • Note: Wheelchair users: Apply the brakes. Cover your head with your arms to help protect against falling objects. Ask for assistance.
  • Do not go into a doorway.
  • Do not run or panic.
  • Move away from the danger areas: near windows, hanging objects, tall unsecured furniture (bookcases, cabinets, and appliances), and research or process equipment containing hazardous chemicals. Most casualties in earthquakes result from falling materials.
  • Stay inside under cover until the shaking stops.
  • Watch for falling objects.
  • As you leave the area, and if safe to do so, turn off and disconnect power to equipment containing hazardous materials unless needed to keep process or experiment safe
  • Make note of any unsafe conditions, trapped personnel or other hazards to be reported when you evacuate to your EAP

During an earthquake, if you are outdoors:

  • Stay outside.
  • Move to an open area away from buildings, trees, electrical/overhead wires, and other hazards.
  • If forced to stand near a building, watch for falling objects.

During an earthquake, if  you are in an automobile

  • Stop your vehicle in the nearest open area without blocking the roadway
  • Do not stop under bridges, overpasses, or overhead wires
  • Stay in the vehicle until the shaking stops

When the ground shaking stops:

  • If any of the following occurs or is noted, evacuate after the shaking stops to the designated Emergency Assembly Point (EAP):
    • Smoke and/or fire
    • Fire and/or sprinkler alarm is activated
    • Other life-threatening hazards
    • Significant amount of fallen objects
    • Glass breakage
    • Large cracks in walls (small hairline cracks are somewhat to be expected)
    • Only activate the fire alarm if there is a fire in your building.
    • When in doubt, evacuate the building and assess the situation before taking further action.
    • Take your emergency supplies, car keys, purse and/or wallet, with you. You may not be able to re-enter the building.
    • Leave doors unlocked.
    • DO NOT USE ELEVATORS – they most likely will not be working.
    • Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in obvious, immediate danger from fire, building collapse, etc. Note their locations and report them  at the designated Emergency Assembly Point (EAP).
    • Do not re-enter buildings until emergency management personnel have given clearance to return.
    • Await instructions, be patient, and help others.
    • Be prepared for aftershocks; these may occur seconds, minutes, hours or days after the initial shock.
    • Report serious injuries, fires, or other hazards to the Response Team member for the area at your EAP. Give the following information:
      • Your name
      • Location of the problem (building, floor, room number, etc.)
      • Severity of the situation
      • Indicate whether any people or equipment are involved or are in imminent danger

If you are trapped:

  • Stay calm.
  • If a window is available, place an article of clothing (shirt, coat, etc.) outside the window as a marker for rescue teams.
  • If there is no window, regularly tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you.
  • If possible, use a cell phone, flashlight, or whistle to signal your location to rescuers.
  • If available, pull a manual fire alarm pull station.
  • Shout only as a last resort (to prevent dust inhalation, tiring too quickly, or losing your voice).
  • Avoid unnecessary movement to prevent kicking up dust.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand to prevent breathing in dust and other debris. (Dense-weave cotton material can act as a good filter. Breathe through the material.)

After an earthquake:

  • Open doors carefully.
  • Do not use plumbing, light switches, or gas until utility lines have been checked.
  • Do not use matches, lighters, or candles.
  • Replace telephone handsets on cradles and avoid using phones for non-emergency purposes.
  • Stay on campus until you have been accounted for and instructed that it is safe to leave.
  • Roads may have been damaged or blocked by debris, so travel may be dangerous.

For emergency information:

Pay attention to AlertSU notifications by text, email or phone if available.

Go to the Stanford University Emergency website at

Call (650) 725-5555, the Stanford Emergency Information Hotline

Listen to KZSU 90.1 FM or log on to

Listen to reports on the local Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio station, KCBS 740 am) and on television

Useful websites for more information

Stanford Lands, Buildings & Real Estate (LBRE) Seismic Engineering Guidelines