At 10:15 am on Thursday as many as one million Utahns may drop to the floor to seek cover as part of a statewide earthquake drill. This, all in anticipation of potentially huge earthquakes the state could experience after years of buildup.
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The Great Utah Shakeout is an annual statewide earthquake drill planned for Thursday April 18. Nearly one million individuals have been registered to participate in the drill. Either as families, businesses, government agencies or other organizations. Wade Mathews is the manager for Be Ready Utah as part of the Utah Division of Emergency Management.
“Right now, we are at over 977,000 participants here in Utah for this year’s shakeout,” Mathews said. “Participation, what does that mean? It means that we want people wherever they are at 10:15 AM to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Get underneath a desk, table, or chair hold on for about a minute during an imaginary earthquake. Then it’s a good idea to get up, check on your family or neighbors and make sure everybody’s OK after an earthquake. Evacuate and see if your house is severely damaged or not, or if you can still stay in your building.”
You can register for the event at Shakeout.org/Utah. Registration is not required but is encouraged so as to measure the success of the program. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 5,000 individuals had registered as participants in Wasatch County with nearly 9,000 registering in Summit County. The drill is an opportunity to learn and practice earthquake survival skills.
“We would like everyone to know the protective actions to survive an earthquake,” Mathews explained. “There’s a phrase for that we call it: Drop, Cover and Hold On. That essentially means drop down wherever you are, cover your head and neck with one arm and crawl under a desk, table, or a sturdy chair and get cover over your head. Then with the other hand hold on to the leg of that table, desk, or chair until the shaking stops. The biggest cause of injury and death in an earthquake is falling objects, so we want to get that cover overhead to prevent those things from hitting us.”
The recent string of earthquakes in Utah, and the promise of a large-scale earthquake has piqued people’s interest.
“We do live in earthquake country here in Utah,” Mathews continued. “There is a need to be ready, be prepared in case an earthquake happens. It’s not a matter of if, but when. We know it’s been over 1,400 years since we’ve had a large-scale magnitude 7.0 or greater earthquake here in Utah. The problem is we don’t know when the next one is going to be. So, when should we be prepared for an earthquake? Right now. It could happen at any moment. The string of earthquakes that we have had they don’t necessarily lessen any pressure on the fault lines, which is what a lot of people think. It’s a common misconception actually. They don’t also foretell a future earthquake. They really don’t do either. All we know is that we need to be ready for an earthquake at any moment.”
Mathews also says you can receive monthly Earthquake preparedness tips by texting “UtahQuake” to 43362.
Park City, North and South Summit School districts have all registered for the drill, as has Wasatch School District.
Wasatch CAPS students Kaylee Western and Winter Ashurst helped organize the earthquake drill at Wasatch High School. That drill will take place on Thursday starting at 2:45 pm and will allow teachers and other community agencies to prepare for an earthquake. The goal of the drill is to increase awareness for the need of better emergency preparedness in schools. Joining the CAPS program in organizing the drill will be the school district, Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, Heber City Police, Wasatch County Health Department, Wasatch County EMS and Heber Valley Hospital.
To register or learn more click here.