How to Prepare and Be Safe During a Landslide

Landslide

Before a Landslide

  • Be aware of landslide susceptible areas in your neighborhood.
  • Recognize landslide warning signs before they happen so you know what to do when they happen.

Landslide Warning Signs

  • Changes occur in your landscape such as patterns of land movement, small slides, flows, or progressively leaning trees.
  • Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
  • New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations.
  • Outside walls, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
  • Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
  • Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
  • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
  • A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears.
  • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris.
  • Collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flow can be seen when driving (embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides).

If You Suspect Imminent Landslide Danger...

  • Contact your local fire, police, or public works department. Local officials are the best persons able to assess potential danger.
  • Inform affected neighbors. Your neighbors may not be aware of potential hazards. Advising them of a potential threat may help save lives. Help neighbors who may need assistance to evacuate.
  • Evacuate. Getting out of the path of a landslide or debris flow is your best protection.
  • If escape is not possible, curl into a tight ball and protect your head.

If a Landslide or Debris Flow Occurs

  • If there has been a period of heavy rainfall and you are in a landslide prone area, you may be at risk of a landslide. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or portable, battery-powered radio or television for warnings. Many debris-flow fatalities occur when people are sleeping. Stay alert and awake. Many debris-flow fatalities occur when people are sleeping.
  • If you are in areas susceptible to landslides and debris flows, consider leaving if it is safe to do so. Remember that driving during an intense storm can be hazardous. If you remain at home, move to a second story if possible. Staying out of the path of a landslide or debris flow saves lives.
  • Listen for any unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle of flowing or falling mud or debris may precede larger landslides. Moving debris can flow quickly and sometimes without warning.
  • Be especially alert when driving. Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flows.

After a Landslide

  • Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
  • Stay away from the slide area. There may be danger of additional slides.
  • Watch for flooding, which may occur after a landslide or debris flow. Floods sometimes follow landslides and debris flows because they may both be started by the same event.
  • Check for injured and trapped persons near the slide, without entering the direct slide area. Direct rescuers to their locations.
  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
  • Look for and report broken utility lines and damaged roadways and railways to appropriate authorities. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury.

Sources:

FEMA
American Red Cross
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US Geological Survey