Seismic Safety Experts Encourage Earthquake Preparation In Utah
Here in Utah, 85% of us live within a few miles of the Wasatch Fault. Recent earthquakes in southern California, as well as rumbling in Bluffdale earlier this year should be a wake-up call for all of us, according to seismic safety experts who met at the Utah State Capitol today. If Utah had an earthquake like the one they had in California several days ago, forecast models show that more than 2500 people would die, and more than 80,000 families would be displaced from their homes.
“Even if we just had a magnitude five, if it happened right here, right on the Wasatch where people live, the damage would be tremendous,” said Keith Koper, director of University of Utah Seismograph Stations. The 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes that rattled California should catch our attention, he said. “That’s the size of an earthquake that we know has happened previously here in Utah.”
Today, according to scientific forecasts, there’s a 50% chance a damaging six magnitude or greater earthquake will shake the Wasatch Front in the next 50 years.
“So, it’s very real,” said Koper. “It’s a 50% chance in the next 50 years. It’s not one in 10 over 100 years or something like that.”
It would likely be more damaging than the recent quakes in California. Those happened away from populated areas.
But, preparation can give us peace of mind.
“California, matter-of-fact, is Utah’s teacher. We’ve learned a lot from the Californians,” Maralin Hoff travels the state preaching earthquake preparedness for Be Ready Utah. She was dubbed the
“Earthquake Lady” by middle schoolers more than 20 years ago.
“I know I am prepared now,” she said.
But, she didn’t always feel that way, and shares several things you can do this weekend, to be ready.
– Update your disaster supply kit, which they used to call the 72 hour kit.
“Are your kits updated? Do you have all the things you really need? And, did you pack things you don’t need?” Gather items already in your home that should be in the kit.
– Check food storage.
– Check water storage and make sure you have enough to last several weeks.
– “Also, have an out-of-state contact person,” said Hoff. You may not be able to call or text anyone locally. But, you may be able to alert an out of town relative that you’re OK.
– Finally, stay calm, and do things around your home to make it safe.
“Let preparedness be part of your life,” said Hoff.
Back in February, a swarm of earthquakes rattled homes around Bluffdale, with aftershocks continuing for about one month. But, Koper tells me that activity is not a warning sign that a big one is coming soon.. Those quakes, he says, were too small to affect the overall pattern of stress on the Wasatch Fault.