Be Ready Utah urges residents to prepare for earthquakes

By on November 16, 2011.

By Kara Neaves

It has been more than three centuries since Utah had an earthquake, but experts predict another one could happen soon and are helping residents prepare.

“We’re overdue for a large earthquake along the Wasatch Front,” said Ryan Longman, section manager for Be Ready Utah, a group working to educate residents on earthquake safety. “We have a major earthquake about every 350 to 400 years somewhere along the Wasatch Front. The last one that we saw historically was 350 years ago.”

As part of Be Ready Utah’s campaign, officials are encouraging families, businesses and schools as well as government and law enforcement agencies to register for The Great Utah Shakeout, a state-wide earthquake drill where participants “drop, cover and hold on.”

“You know, an earthquake can cause all sorts of problems for people,” said Joe Dougherty, a public information officer for the Division of Emergency Management. “It could cause long-term power outages while people are trying to stay warm in their homes. We can see the ground shaking, we may see a fault rupture. We may see liquefaction which causes some instability in the ground. If the ground is supersaturated, there are areas in the state that are prone to landslides.”

Experts estimate 2,300 people could die with 30,000 injured and more than $35 billion in property damages could occur.

As part of Be Ready Utah’s campaign, officials are encouraging families, businesses and schools as well as government and law enforcement agencies to register for The Great Utah Shakeout, a statewide earthquake drill where participants “drop, cover and hold on.”

Brigham Young University is among the organizations registered for the drill.

“Our No. 1 priority is always the safety of our students and our campus community,” said Todd Hollingshead, a BYU spokesman. “And we take it very seriously.”

While no one knows when disaster will strike, there is a lot Utah residents can do now. The Be Ready Utah campaign encourages residents to get a 72-hour kit, make a family emergency plan and get some training.

Part of what worries officials the most is that many homes are not properly prepared for such a huge earthquake. More than 80 percent of Utah’s population lives near the fault. Be Ready Utah suggests home owners secure their hot water heaters and heavy or expensive furniture, retrofit older homes and look into earthquake insurance.

For more preparedness tips visit bereadyutah.gov and discover how to make a plan, how to make a kit, and how to get involved.

You can also follow BeReadyUtah on Twitter and Facebook.

And find out how to register for The Great Utah Shakeout and see who else is enrolled at shakeout.org/utah.