Utah prepares for earthquakes

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    By Amy Reinwand

    Earthquakes around the world have brought concerns over Utah”s preparedness for a temblor.

    “The earthquakes that happened in Italy were along faults like the ones in the Wasatch Front,” Smith said.

    According to University of Utah Seismology Center, Utah records hundreds of small earthquakes a day.

    When an earthquake is small many times it can”t be felt at all. However, when it is larger it can result in a powerful force – stronger than an atomic bomb letting loose.

    Robert Smith, professor of geophysics at the University of Utah, said it would be nearly impossible to predict an earthquake in Utah, but we have some clues as to what it may be like.

    Seismologists at the University of Utah said historically an earthquake hits the Wasatch Front area about every 350 years. They also said it is more important to prepare than try to make predictions.

    Preparing in Utah includes making sure buildings and dams meet earthquake standards.

    Most of the new construction is built to modern earthquake standards and many older buildings are brought up to meet earthquake codes.

    Last fall, concerns about the stability of the state capital dome arose. It was quickly retrofitted to meet standards.

    Barry Solomon, senior geologist in the Geologic Hazard program for Utah, said for the most part the dams in Utah are ready for an earthquake, and the ones that are not prepared are undergoing construction now.

    Smith agreed.

    “The biggest danger where people will be the most seriously injured is when it involves manmade structures,” he said.

    Individuals must prepare their family and home for an earthquake, Solomon said.

    “One real problem we have is that Utah hasn”t experienced a strong earthquake along the Wasatch Front in which to learn lessons from,” Solomon said.

    Local authorities currently use the EQE Earthquake Home Preparedness Guide to help families become more prepared for an earthquake.

    It puts the basic rectangular, single-story, wood-frame house as one of the safest types of structures.

    It also recommends having water and food storage, a first-aid kit and fire extinguishers.

    Solomon said there should always be a certain level of earthquake hazard preparedness no matter what the location.

    However, a recent quake in Alabama does not put Utah at a higher risk and shouldn”t result in unnecessary panic, he said.

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