The best place to be during an earthquake is outside. The vast majority of the danger you face is from falling objects colliding with you. There is also the risk of a building collapse, although many experts note that more people get hurt or even killed in buildings that are still standing because objects strike them.
That said, unless you are standing in the doorway already, you probably do not have time to get outside. Most people have no warning at all that an earthquake is about to strike. Panicking and trying to run may put you in even greater danger. So, what should you do if you cannot get outside?
Drop to your knees
Brace yourself on your hands and knees. Trying to stay on your feet just puts you at risk because a strong earthquake can and will knock you over. You could suffer serious injuries if you wait for that to happen. Dropping down on your own puts you in control and stabilizes you to reduce the risk.
Crawl to safety
If you can, crawl around the room to a safer position. Remember, falling objects are the greatest threat. If you can get under a sturdy dining room table or a desk at work, you can help keep yourself safer. Any type of cover is better than being exposed and in the open. Crawl quickly, but be careful.
Windows can shatter during the earthquake, and serious lacerations can turn deadly. Stay as far from windows and other glass as you can. This is true even if you are under cover.
If you do not have any readily-available cover, get close to a stable exterior wall. Exterior walls tend to be far tougher and more durable than interior walls. They also get you far away from televisions, computers, ceiling fans, light fixtures and other heavy objects that may fall during the quake.
Cover vital areas
Finally, you need to bend down toward the ground, which covers your vital organs. Even if something strikes you, you will be more likely to survive.
If you did find shelter, like a desk, grab it with one hand. Stay under it, even if it moves and shifts. Put the other hand up over your neck and head to protect them.
If you did not find shelter, just put both arms up and cross them over your neck and head. You may still injure your arms, but that's far preferable to head or spine injuries.
If you suffer serious injuries in an earthquake, or if you lose a loved one in the disaster, make sure you know all of the legal rights that you may have.