The Wasatch Fault is long overdue for an earthquake, and though exactly when it will hit is unpredictable, seismologists say Utahns should start bracing themselves now.
Earthquakes could strike at any given moment. Tremonton recently experienced a 3.9 magnitude tremor and minor quakes hit nearly every day without people realizing, according to the University of Utah’s Seismograph Stations. Experts speculate the next major Wasatch Fault earthquake could be bigger than a magnitude of 7.0, according to Fox 13. Preparation, safety experts say, is the single best way to minimize the impact and maximize survival.
Surviving an earthquake isn’t just about knowing what to do when it hits. It’s also about gathering supplies for the immediate aftermath.
“It’s scary to think that the earthquake could hit at any second,” says Luis Trujillo, a former student at Salt Lake Community College. “My family and I have been preparing for it ever since we learned about it.”
Preparation for Trujillo’s family means a combination of knowing what to do when an earthquake hits and gathering supplies together in a spot that is easily accessible.
“We know the basics, like hide under something and chill there until the earthquake is over,” he says, “and we also have tons of spare water and food in case things hit the fan.”
Abril Mayen, a SLCC student majoring in forensics, says she hasn’t done any preparations for the earthquake besides being aware a big one could come at any moment.
“I know that it’s due to have happened already or that it can happen at any time,” she says. “I’m not sure there’s a lot we can do, it’s supposed to be a big earthquake and very dangerous.”
While state officials encourage preparedness with drills like the annual Great ShakeOut, Salt Lake Community College has also taken steps to be ready for when a large earthquake hits. Joy Tlou, SLCC’s public relations director, says the college has made sure the school’s infrastructure is solid.
“A great number of the new buildings have been made earthquake resistant…and older buildings such as the South City Campus have gone through renovations and seismic assessments to address the possible earthquake,” he says.
Tlou also says the SLCC website has information on how to respond to “all the horrible things that can go wrong,” from earthquakes to bomb threats and power failures to an active shooter. Booklets of information also hang in classrooms and offices across the campuses.
The next Great Utah ShakeOut earthquake drill is slated to take place April 18, 2020. Participation in the ShakeOut is free and helps prepare and inform the public on what precautions to take before the earthquake hits, including what should be packed in an earthquake kit.