Fast Facts: Landslides & Mudflows

In the event of a landslide or mudslide, the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers a number of tips:

Landslide warning signs:

— 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.
— Underground utility lines break.
— Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
— Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
— Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
— You hear a faint rumbling sound that increases in volume as the landslide nears. The ground slopes downward in one specific direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.

What to do during a landslide:

If inside a building:

— Stay inside.
— Take cover under a desk, table, or other piece of sturdy furniture.

If outdoors:

— Try and get out of the path of the landslide or mudflow.
— Run to the nearest high ground in a direction away from the path.
— If rocks and other debris are approaching, run for the nearest shelter such as a group of trees or a building.
— If escape is not possible, curl into a tight ball and protect your head.


A sinkhole occurs when groundwater dissolves a vulnerable land surface such as limestone, causing the land surface to collapse from a lack of support. In June 1993, a 100-foot wide, 25-foot deep sinkhole formed under a hotel parking lot in Atlanta, killing two people and engulfing numerous cars.

What to do after a landslide:

— Stay away from the slide area.
— There may be danger of additional slides.
— Check for injured and trapped persons near the slide area.
— Give first aid if trained.
— Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance—infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
— Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
— Remember that flooding may occur after a mudflow or a landslide.
— Check for damaged utility lines.
— Report any damage to the utility company.
— Check the building foundation, chimney, and surrounding land for damage.
— Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding.
— Seek the advice of geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk.

(Source: FEMA Fact Sheet: Landslides and Mudflows