Nurses are a vital workforce to the disaster response of an earthquake. The aim of this study was to assess preexisting knowledge in baccalaureate nursing students about disaster preparedness and self-protective behavioral responses during an earthquake. A descriptive cross-sectional survey of nursing students from a seismologically active region was conducted. Data were collected prior to earthquake preparedness education and ShakeOut drills designed to enhance personal safety. A total of 274 nursing students participated in the survey (response rate - 93%). More than half (57%) of respondents did not feel prepared for an earthquake; 88% were without a household emergency plan and 82% lacked emergency supplies. Self-protective actions of drop, cover, and hold on and stay in bed were accurately identified by 77% and 96% of respondents, respectively. Hazardous actions selected included stand in a doorway (77% of respondents) and go outside into the street (23% of respondents). These results demonstrate a lack of personal disaster preparedness in nursing students and several behavioral responses that do not promote self-preservation during seismic activity. Although existing baccalaureate nursing education addresses competencies for disaster care, actions are needed to develop curriculum that emphasizes preparedness and safety to regional environmental hazards.