State officials urging Utahns to sign up for Great Utah ShakeOut

Apr 5, 2024, 7:20 PM | Updated: 7:33 pm

TOOELE — With several earthquakes making headlines, the Utah Division of Emergency Management is encouraging Utahns to be prepared.

The Great Utah ShakeOut is taking place Thursday, April 18. It’s a day when Utahns participate in earthquake drills whether that be at school, work, or at home.

“We experience about 1,200 earthquakes in Utah every year. Most of those are smaller (and) in places where most people don’t feel them,” said Wade Mathews, spokesperson for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. “But 90% of Utah’s population lives in areas that can have earthquakes. We have a 50% chance of a 6.0 to 7.5 magnitude quake occurring on the Wasatch Fault in the next 50 years.”

Tips to keep in mind

Mathews said the goal is to teach people how to be prepared for an earthquake no matter the size, which means learning how to drop, cover, and hold.

“Drop down to the floor, crawl or get underneath some cover. A desk, a table, even a chair that you can get your head and shoulders underneath and then hold on to the legs until the shaking starts.” Mathews said.

Mathews said the phrase drop, cover, and hold can vary on the situation.

If you can’t get to a cover, get up against a wall with no windows or glass overhead, kneel down and cover your head.
If you’re in bed, pull a pillow over your head and make sure there are no objects that can fall above you.
If you’re driving, stop when it’s safe to do so. Do not stop on a bridge or under an overpass.
If you’re outdoors, move away from tall buildings, power lines, and trees.

Despite previous advice, do not get in the doorway and do not run outside if already indoors. If an earthquake happens at night, keep a good pair of shoes and a flashlight by your bed to get through the debris if any.

Mathews said it’s important to be prepared for the aftermath as well. “That involves having your family disaster plan and disaster supply kits, your food and water storage,” he said.

The Great Utah ShakeOut

So far close to 700,000 Utahns have signed up to participate in the Great Utah ShakeOut this year with the majority of participants students or school faculty. Younger participants is a positive thing, “So it becomes second nature,” Mathews said.

During a designated time, participants will drop, cover, and hold for about one minute followed by an evacuation drill.

“Maybe take a moment to make a communications check. Check on your family, call your out-of-state telephone contact, call your supervisor and give (it) a little status report.” Mathews said.

In Tooele County, emergency services will send a mass notification to subscribers and will ask for a status report in an attempt to practice “overwhelming the system.”

Mathews said it’s important to “fight like you train. We need to make sure we’re training the right way.”

For more resources and to sign up for free, click here.

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State officials urging Utahns to sign up for Great Utah ShakeOut