An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust (ground) that creates seismic waves (shaking).  Although Iowa isn’t known for having earthquakes, the New Madrid, Missouri seismic zone, is located within 400 miles of the campus and a seismic wave and potential damage could occur here.

Immediate Action

If you are inside a building

  • Stay indoors and seek shelter under sturdy tables, desks, or inside doorways.
  • Do not use elevators. 
  • Stay away from windows, wall hangings, suspended objects, and tall unsecured furniture (bookcases, cabinets, or appliances)  

If you’re outside

  • Stay in the open, away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Don’t go near anything where there is a danger of falling debris.  

After the seismic waves (shaking stops)

  • Be prepared for aftershocks.  Earthquakes sometimes occur in a series of tremors, which could last for a period of several days.  Aftershocks, or even a series of aftershocks, are common after earthquakes and may last for a few seconds to perhaps as long as 5 minutes or more.  
  • Attempt to safely evacuate the building.  For additional information on evacuations, see Evacuation/Rescue Plan For Persons With Disabilities.
  • If you are trapped inside a building, try calling for help by yelling, banging on building materials around you, or by using a telephone or cell phone (if service is available).   
  • Be alert for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring, downed electrical lines, or ruptured sewer lines. Whenever possible, turn the utility off at its source.  
  • Don’t re-enter damaged buildings. Aftershocks could cause more damage or knock them down.


Emergency units will respond and make decisions regarding the control and abatement of the incident.  These units will issue an “all clear” for safe building re-entry, when appropriate.  

Decision maker(s)

The emergency unit or agency in control will decide when to turn control of the scene back over to the appropriate University entity.  

Subsequent Procedures/Information

Depending on the nature and degree of the incident, other supporting agencies and University resource units may be brought in for services or assistance.