State officials are gearing up to make 2012 a statewide year of earthquake preparedness.
For the first time in history, a statewide earthquake drill will be held. At 10:15 a.m. on April 17, hundreds of thousands of Utahns will run to get under a desk or table and then hold on. The event is voluntary, and already 400,000 people have signed up to participate. The state has set a goal to get at least a quarter of the state's population, 700,000 people, in on the drill.
"This is the culmination of a lot of smaller exercises that have happened," Joe Dougherty, spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. "It takes a couple of years to get to this place. It's not like we have any secret information that an earthquake is going to happen, but we are always trying to be prepared."
The majority of those signed up to participate are school children. BYU has signed up, as have all three Utah county school districts. But the state would like everyone to get on board.
"We are asking schools, families, businesses, government, volunteer organizations, faith-based organizations, Scouts, universities," he said. "We want the entire state to get prepared."
To that end, the state is encouraging families and individuals to make preparedness a resolution for the new year.
"Why not resolve to be ready in 2012," he said. "Start coming up with your community plan. Start building your emergency kit. Make that your resolution this year."
He encouraged people to check the state's website, shakeout.org/utah, and if your city is not already signed up, encourage your elected officials to get your whole city on board.
Committing to participate in the statewide drill is a good start, he said. But it is not enough.
"We need people to create a culture of preparedness," he said.
"It is not just earthquakes. Flooding is much more common. People need to be prepared for winter storms and extended power outage. They just need to start and do something."
Officials are encouraging everyone to follow Be Ready Utah on either Facebook or Twitter or both. For more information, visit shakeout.org/utah and beready.utah.gov.
- In a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, Provo could sustain $14 billion of damage to buildings, with 48,000 displaced families and 3,000 dead.
- The Wasatch Front has an average for three earthquakes every year with a magnitude 3.0 or less, and one quake every 50 years of magnitude 6.0.
- In the event of a major quake, access to cash, ATMs and online banking is likely to be limited. Grocery stores and pharmacies are likely to be closed or unable to restock.
- Homeowner's insurance policies do not cover earthquake losses. Homeowners can purchase separate earthquake policies, but few in Utah have.