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Earthquakes can strike suddenly and without warning. An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth's surface. Ground-shaking from earthquakes can cause buildings or bridges to collapse, disrupt utility services, and trigger events such as avalanches, fires, floods, landslides, and tsunamis. Most injuries result when buildings or walls collapse or when debris or glass flies through the air. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can greatly reduce the injuries and loss of life that typically occur when earthquakes happen.

Coping With Earthquakes

Children are especially vulnerable to hazards that may be present during and after natural disasters such as earthquakes. In the event of an earthquake, the AAP encourages pediatricians, families, and communities to work together to ensure that children's basic needs are met. Providing extra support, patience, and reassurance to children after a crisis event can help them understand and cope with what has happened.

The AAP provides various resources to help families prepare for and respond to an earthquake.

The Earthquake Country Alliance designed a step by step approach that shares easy-to-understand pictures and details on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.

Infectious Disease Outbreaks after Natural Disasters

In addition to the damaging of physical infrastructure, natural disasters can lead to outbreaks of infectious diseases. The risk of these outbreaks can increase when a natural disaster leads to a large number of people moving to shelters with limited access to food and safe water. Infectious disease outbreaks may also result from flooding or the destruction of water and sanitation systems. The following resources may assist pediatricians in responding to infectious disease threats after natural disasters: