Preparing for Landslides or Mudslides

Landslides or mudslides occur when mud, rocks, or debris move quickly down a slope. Use this tip sheet to learn about how to gauge risk, know what to do, and practice plans. Also, find out who to contact to help ensure your plan is effective.

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Landslides occur when mud, rocks, or debris move quickly down a slope. Debris flows, also known as mudslides, are a common type of fast-moving landslide that tends to flow in channels.

What can your program do now to prepare for mudslides or landslides?

Know your risk

Landslides most often occur after heavy rains, or they follow droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. They can happen anywhere, but are more likely to occur in the Appalachian Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Coastal Ranges, and some parts of Alaska and Hawaii. Programs most at risk are located near steep mountains or hills.

a photo damaged in a mudslideKnow what to do

The recommended response to a mudslide or landslide is to evacuate to a secondary location if you are able.

Whether you work alone or in a center, all staff must know what to do in an evacuation response. Emergency plans are essential. Use this sheet to help you identify responsibilities to fit the needs of your program: sites/ Action-Sheets.pdf.

Practice your evacuation plan

Practice the evaluation plan that is right for the children in your program.

  • For infants and toddlers: practice using an evacuation crib, a stroller with multiple seats, a wagon, or an infant vest/carrier.
  • For preschoolers: practice having children line up and follow instructions while using a walking rope or jump rope.
  • For children with special needs: refer to a child’s care plan and emergency information form to ensure your evacuation response plan meets the needs of every child in your program. Designate a staff person to help children with special needs evacuate efficiently. For more information, visit emergency-preparedness-for-children-with-specialneeds.

Looking for a checklist to help your program practice your plan? For evacuation drills, visit

Learn who to contact to help with your emergency plan

An effective emergency plan covers three different phases: preparedness, response, and recovery. While developing your emergency plan, use community resources for different perspectives and recommendations on preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. These resources can include, but are not limited to:

  • Child Care Health Consultants (CCHCs) and Head Start Health Managers
  • Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs)
  • First responders: fire, health, safety, law enforcement, public works, and emergency medical services
  • State/Territory child care licensing agency
  • Mental Health Consultants
  • Emergency Management Agency (EMA)
  • Transportation partners (e.g., bus companies)
  • Public health department

Remember, your community is there to help you!

Here are links you might find useful:

Additional Landslide Resources:

There are many great resources online about preparedness, response, and recovery from landslides. Check out these resources for information about a variety of landslide topics:

Last Updated: October 30, 2018