Are you prepared? - Seismic risk

Knowing about a phenomenon is the first step in learning how to best deal with it and how to prevent possible dangers

Sei preparato Rischio sismico

The Italian territory is exposed to seismic risk, thus being prepared for an earthquake is fundamental.
Safety depends mainly on the building where you live. If it is an ant-seismic building, it won't be subject to major damages and will protect you. Wherever you are in the moment of an earthquake, it is very important to keep calm and follow some simple rules of behaviour.

Italy is a seismic country
Over the past thousand years, some 3,000 earthquakes have provoked serious and less serious damages. Almost 300 of them (with a magnitude higher than 5,5) had destructive effects and one every ten years has catastrophic effects, with an energy comparable to the L’Aquila earthquake of 2009. Any Italian municipality can be affected by earthquake effects, despite the strongest earthquakes are focused in the following areas: Northern-Eastern Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto), Western Liguria, Northern Apennines (from Garfagnana to the Rimini area), and, above all, across the Central and Southern Apennines, in Calabria and Eastern Sicily. You too live in a dangerous area, where earthquakes occurred or where their effects were perceived. And it might happen again in the future.

What happens to a building?
A seismic tremor provokes oscillations, strong or less strong, that shake buildings in various ways. The most damaging oscillations are the horizontal ones. The oldest buildings and the ones that were not projected with anti-seismic rules cannot bear such oscillations, and therefore represent a danger for people. Collapsing houses kill people, not the earthquake. Today’s buildings need to be built in compliance with seismic regulations.

Will the next earthquake cause major damage?
It depends mainly on the earthquake strength (thousands of earthquakes occur every year, and the majority of them with low energy) and on the vulnerability of buildings. Earthquakes have already provoked damages to people or goods where you live. The next earthquake can do great harm: this is way we need to be informed, make prevention and be ready for a possible earthquake.

When will the next earthquake occur?
Nobody knows, as it might occur anytime. We know a lot of things about earthquakes, but it is not yet possible to predict when, with which strength and precisely where they will occur. We know, though, which are the most dangerous areas and we know what to expect from an earthquake: being prepared is the best thing towards prevention and reduction of the earthquake consequences.

Are the earthquake effects the same everywhere?
At an equal distance from the epicenter, the intensity of the shaking caused by the earthquake depends on the conditions of the area, in particular the type of soil and the shape of the landscape. Generally, the shaking is greater in areas where the soils are soft, and lesser where soils are rigid as rock; the location has effect too on the intensity of the shaking, which is greater on the top of the hills and along the edges of cliffs.

How can the State help me?
The state strengthens knowledge of the phenomenon and its effects through territorial monitoring and specific studies; promotes and implements policies to reduce the vulnerability of public and private building assets for safer homes, schools, hospitals, cultural heritage and emergency management facilities; updates seismic classification and regulations, indicating criteria for construction in areas at risk and for proper land-use planning; and implements training programs, exercises and activities to raise public awareness. Being aware and prepared is already a way to reduce risk.
There are also specific benefits for structural antiseismic interventions carried out on private buildings that can significantly contribute to your safety and that of your family and the entire community. For more information visit

Where you live
The whole Italian peninsula is seismic, but the territory is divided in zone with different levels of dangerousness. Who builds or modifies the structure of a house must respect seismic rules of their own area, to protect who lives there. To know the seismic area where you live and which regulations you need to follow, contact the relevant offices of your Region or your Municipality.

Safety of your home
It is important to know when and how your house was built, on what type of terrain, with what materials. And especially if it has been amended respecting the seismic standards. If you have any questions or if you want to know more, you can contact the technical department of your local authority or a trusted technician.

You need to know when and how your house was built, on which type of soil, with which materials.

With the advice of a technician
Sometimes it's enough to reinforce load-bearing walls or improve the connections between walls and floors: to make the right choice, get advice from a trusted technician.

Alone, right from the start

  • Move heavy furniture away from beds or sofas.
  • Fix shelves, bookcases and other tall furniture to the walls; hang pictures and mirrors with closed hooks that prevent them from detaching from the wall.
  • Place heavy items on low shelves; on high shelves, you can secure items with double-sided tape.
  • In the kitchen, use a latch to open cabinet doors where dishes and glasses are contained, so they don't open during the shock.
  • Learn where the gas, water, and master light switch taps are and how to turn them off.
  • Keep a first-aid kit, flashlight, and battery-powered radio in the house and make sure everyone knows where they are.
  • Find out if there is and what the Civil Protection Plan of your municipality provides for: if there isn't, ask for it to be prepared, so that you know how to behave in case of emergency.
  • Avoid all situations that, in case of an earthquake, may represent a danger for you or your family members.
  • Learn what the proper behaviors are during and after an earthquake and, in particular, identify safe places in the home where you can take shelter during the earthquake

During an earthquake
If you are in indoor

Stand in a doorway inserted in a load-bearing wall (the thicker one), near a load-bearing wall or under a beam, or take cover under a sturdy bed or table. The center of the room may be hit by falling objects, pieces of plaster, suspended ceilings, furniture, etc. Do not rush outside, but wait until the earthquake is over

If you are outdoors

Move away from buildings, trees, street lamps, power lines-you may be hit by falling pots, tiles and other materials.

Pay attention to the possible consequences of the earthquake: collapsing bridges, landslides, gas leaks, etc.

After an earthquake

Make sure the people around you are safe and, if necessary, give first aid

Before going out, turn off gas, water and electricity and wear shoes. On your way out, avoid the elevator and be careful on the stairs, which may be damaged. Once outside, stay aware of the situation.

If you are in a tsunami risk area, move away from the beach and get to an elevated place

Limit phone use as much as possible. Limit the use of your car to avoid blocking the passage of emergency vehicles.

Reach the waiting areas provided in the Civil Protection Plan.