How a text could save your life


An old BYU legend continues to encircle campus — there is a secret food storage warehouse that could feed every student for a few days.

Carri Jenkins, a BYU spokeswoman, put those rumors to rest stating there is no hidden food storage, there is only the food already on campus. While they don’t have an official food storage, BYU does have plans from text messages to earthquake preparedness to keep students safe.

“We could sustain life on campus for three days but it would be just the basic needs,” Jenkins said. “Students should not count on BYU to supply all of their needs.”

Jenkins also said BYU certainly does not have enough food to supply the Provo community because food is delivered to campus on a daily basis.

The food available would be the food already on campus from the Cougareat, the Cannon Center and the creameries. “We don’t want anyone to depend on that,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins encourages students to have their own food supply in their dorms or apartments. “We ask students to have food available to them,” Jenkins said. “Students should keep food in their apartment that would sustain them for three or four days.”

Melina Clawson, a BYU student from California, said she is prepared in the event of an emergency.

“I have a lot of food —  canned food — if I need it,” Clawson said.

A natural disaster or security emergency could happen at any time and food storage is just one way to be prepared. Another way to be prepared is to be registered with BYU’s emergency text messaging service. Students are encouraged to register a text-enabled phone number BYU can contact them by. At the time of an emergency BYU will send out a text with instructions and information to all of the students.

“Being able to reach as many students as we can by texting them is very valuable at the time of an emergency,” Jenkins said. “(The text) will give as much instruction as we have at the time and will alert them through the message where to go for more information.”

Wyatt Pearson, a BYU student who lives off-campus, said he knows  if there is an emergency that the emergency text message service will work because he has gotten the test messages before.

“If there is something going on at campus they will tell you where to go and where not to go,” Pearson said.

The text message will give instructions and also direct students to the BYU homepage. The site will be converted into an information channel to alert students and the public to updates about what is happening. Students are also encouraged to share the emergency text message with those around them in case someone does not receive it.

It is also important for students to follow the written instruction plans for housing complexes, whether on-campus or off. All housing complexes have evacuation plans and other instructions to follow if an emergency occurs while at home.

Clawson, who is no stranger to earthquake preparedness growing up in California, said emergency plans for an earthquake are different for every apartment but the basic instructions are the same.

“You are supposed to stay inside and get under a desk or in a door frame,” Clawson said.

Many experts have said Utah is due for a large earthquake and with BYU sitting along the Wasatch fault buildings on campus have been built or reconstructed to withstand the effects of an earthquake.

The old Deseret Towers were not meeting the electrical or practical needs of the students, which were two reasons it was torn down and could have proven harmful if an emergency did occur. BYU buildings and on-campus housing now meet students’ needs in the event of an emergency, including the new Heritage Halls buildings and the new Life Sciences Building.

Kyle Rollins, a foundational engineering expert and professor at BYU, helped plan the new Life Sciences Building south campus.

Rollins said the new building has received the stone column treatment to protect the building should an earthquake occur. Without this treatment the intense vibration from the earthquake would cause water pressure to build up and the foundation would behave like a liquid instead of a solid, causing the building to tilt and become unstable.

The treatment involves drilling a hole 40-50 feet down into the ground, inserting a column into the hole and filling the column with gravel.

“The hole fills with gravel and vibrates so it compacts the gravel and the sand around the column,” Rollins said. “This makes the soil compact so it will not liquify in an earthquake.”

BYU has taken many precautions to ensure the safety of students and faculty, and encourages them to learn evacuation plans and to register to receive emergency text messages. If a natural disaster were to occur, the instructions from apartment management or preparedness plans set up by bishoprics ensure everyone is accounted for in that apartment or ward.

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