Message for U.S. Citizens: Earthquake Preparedness

Nicaragua is prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. The U.S. Mission in Nicaragua reminds U.S. citizens of the importance of preparing for potential crises before they occur and offers the following suggestions to ensure you and your family are ready.

Before an Earthquake: Be Prepared

Stock your home with supplies that may be needed during an emergency period. An extensive list of suggested items can be found at www.ready.gov. At a minimum, your emergency kit should include:

  • A 3–5-day supply of water (about five gallons per person) and non-perishable food.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
  • Prescription medicines and needs for special medical conditions.
  • Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
  • Disposable cleaning cloths and personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.
  • An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
  • Personal documents, including passports, birth abroad certificates for children born overseas, medical, vaccination, and school records, cash, credit cards, and a card with local translations of basic terms. If you have pets, be sure to have their vaccination records.

Prepare your family in advance by taking the following steps:

  • Choose a safe place in every room—under a sturdy table or desk or against an inside wall, preferably in the corner of the room, where nothing can fall on you.
  • Practice COVER AND HOLD ON at least twice a year. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there is no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you. Teach children to COVER AND HOLD ON.
  • Prepare written instructions for how to turn off gas, electricity, and water if advised to do so.
  • Inform domestic staff, babysitters and caregivers of safe places in your residence and your earthquake plan.
  • Devise an emergency communication plan for contacting family and friends in the event of an earthquake.

During an earthquake: COVER AND HOLD ON

  • Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place. If you are indoors, stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit the structure. Stay away from windows. In a multistory building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to activate during a quake.
  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. If there are tall bookcases or other furniture items that could fall on you, move away from them.
  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
  • If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place (as described above). Stay in the car until the shaking stops.

After an Earthquake: Stay Safe

  • If trapped under debris, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing, try not to move around and kick up dust, and do not light matches or use a lighter. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting will bring harmful dust into your lungs and reduce your strength.
  • If you can move, check yourself for injuries. Protect yourself from further danger by putting on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and work gloves.
  • Check others for injuries. Give first aid for serious injuries.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Eliminate fire hazards. Turn off the gas if you smell gas or think it is leaking.
  • Tune into local television for updates or check Nicaragua’s national weather and geographical authority. Also, information about the Nicaraguan disaster alert system can be found here.
  • Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one COVER AND HOLD ON!
  • Inspect your home for damage. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.

Other tips

We recommend making sure you have health insurance whenever you are traveling abroad. For more information, see Insurance Providers for Overseas Coverage.

Make sure your passport is ready for use in case you should need to travel suddenly. Most countries require that it be valid for at least six months after the end of your trip and that it have two or more blank pages. See our passport page for information about renewing passports in Nicaragua.

Stay informed by enrolling in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and ensure you can be located in an emergency.

Keep the contact information of the U.S. Embassy in Managua with you (see below). Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for official information.

Assistance:

  • Please follow the links or call the numbers below for consular assistance. Contact the U.S. Embassy in Managua, located at Km 5 ½ C. Sur Managua, Nicaragua, by calling +505-2252-7104, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 7:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Fridays.
  • The American Citizen Services unit is also available by email during regular business hours at ACSManagua@state.gov. For after-hours emergencies, call +505-2252-7171 and ask for the Embassy Duty Officer.
  • Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates
  • State Department – Consular Affairs: 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
  • Nicaragua Country Information
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter