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Since 1638, only two earthquakes greater than magnitude 6.0 have occurred in the northeastern United States. In that same period, only one earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0 has occurred within 100 miles of Rochester. A 1929 earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 was approximately 45 miles from the city. There is a fault line under the southeastern part of Lake Ontario, approximately 35 kilometers northeast of Rochester. The danger and risks of earthquakes can be reduced if people know what actions to take before, during and after an earthquake.


  • Secure shelves and prevent objects from falling by using latching doors or raised edges. Place breakables and heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Bolt top-heavy furniture and equipment to the walls or floor. Overhead lights, heavy artwork, and mirrors need to be anchored.
  • Store flammable liquids in flammable liquids storage cabinets.


  • If possible, stand in a doorway, against an interior wall or seek protection underneath furniture, such as a desk or table.
  • Place your arms over your head to protect yourself from head injuries.
  • Distance yourself from windows that may break and large or heavy objects which may fall.
  • Wait for the shaking to cease before leaving the building.


  • Distance yourself from trees, power lines, utility poles and buildings.
  • If you are driving, pull your vehicle over in a location away from trees, bridges, power lines, utility poles and buildings.
  • Wait for the shaking to cease before leaving your vehicle.


  • Once the shaking has stopped, begin to carefully evacuate. Take items such as keys, wallet, medicines or other emergency supplies only if they are within reach.
  • While leaving the building, be cautious about falling objects and structural damage. Be alert for persons who are injured or trapped.
  • If available, turn on a radio or television for information.
  • Phone systems may become overloaded for 15-30 minutes after an incident, which may delay emergency responders. Only use the phone during this time if it is an emergency.

Additional Information

Affirmation of "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" in an earthquake at the website

American Red Cross

Federal Emergency Management

Department of Homeland Security


Staying Informed

RIT's Emergency Line (recorded message): (585) 475-7075 and (585) 475-7076 TTY

Monroe County Office of Emergency Preparedness