With more than 100 recent tremors shaking the Salt Lake Valley in less than a month, many Utahns have been left with a feeling of unease.
Chatter about the “big one” have followed the swarm of quakes, with Utah residents thinking even more about how they can prepare themselves for potential disaster. But planning for an emergency is often a lower priority, despite the fears surrounding the potential impact of a natural disaster.
Those living along the Wasatch Front are typically aware they live in an area fraught with potential seismic activity.
“It’s scary,” says longtime Utah resident Victoria Graham. “I have dreams about a big earthquake happening, and I don’t know what I would do. The frequency of these quakes has me worried.”
To give all Utahns the best chance at survival, Be Ready Utah encourages proactive preparations. Families in particular should create a disaster preparedness plan.
“Families having a disaster plan in place is a must,” says Wade Matthews, manager of the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Be Ready Utah program.
An effective disaster preparedness plan should cover home preparations to decrease risk, how to be safe during an earthquake, how to respond after an earthquake, along with how to communicate and recover afterward.
Matthews also recommends practicing your emergency plans by participating in the Great Utah ShakeOut, happening April 18.
Each person in the home, including pets, should have a 72-hour disaster preparedness kit. These should include medications, medical information, first-aid supplies, hygiene supplies, personal identification and emergency contact numbers, high calorie snack foods, and a flashlight.
Be Ready Utah recommends having these kits somewhere easily accessible, such as in a bag tied to your bedpost. Each home should also have a household disaster kit that would include food and water, battery operated radio, pet food and restraints, and copies of vital documents.
During the quake, Be Ready Utah advises to “stop, drop, and hold on” until the shaking stops.
Identify pieces of furniture in the home to hide under for protection. Covering the head, neck and torso is the most important step.
And forget that myth about standing in a doorway-they are no stronger than any other part of your home.
After the shaking has stopped, be patient and wait to see if the environment is safe. Aftershocks are common, and falling debris often causes injuries to the survivors of earthquakes.
Aftershocks can occur minutes, days, weeks, or even months after the primary earthquake. Listen to emergency personnel and follow directions toward safe buildings and staging areas.
Visit the Red Cross or the Great Utah ShakeOut for additional information concerning earthquake preparedness, including complete emergency kit lists.