When we prepare together, we’ll survive together.
That’s the message behind the Great Utah SkakeOut – a statewide earthquake drill scheduled for 10:15 Wednesday morning. Organizers say nearly 900,000 people will participate in the exercise aimed at preparing Utahns for a major earthquake. TV and radio broadcasters will air a minute-long scenario about what to do when the shaking starts.
“Drop to the floor now,” says a narrator in a promotional video about the event. “During a large earthquake, the ground might jerk strongly and knock you down. Take cover under something sturdy to protect yourself from objects that can be thrown across the room. Hold on to your shelter until the shaking stops.”
Participants have been planning the event for months, encouraging residents to evaluate their emergency plans, check fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and ensure drinking water is available.
School districts, utility companies and government agencies will participate as well. About 1,000 employees at the State Capitol will drop, cover and hold on while alarms sound. And staff at all state agencies are encouraged to evacuate office buildings and wait for the ‘all clear’ signal while buildings are inspected.
The University of Utah will test its emergency alert system and implement several emergency plans. Utah State University will coordinate with Cache County emergency response teams and test a network of emergency radio systems and protocols.
Joe Dougherty of the Utah Division of Emergency Management explains why the Shake Out program was created.
“The ShakeOut started in California in 2008 and because Utah is also earthquake country, it’s a program we decided to adopt here as well,” said Dougherty. “The first ShakeOut in Utah happened in 2012, and we saw that 33 percent of the state was willing to participate with us in practicing the correct earthquake actions of drop, cover and hold on.”
Anyone interested in learning more can sign on to social media or through the official website at www.shakeout.org/utah to stay connected.
And if you’re tuned in to Utah Public Radio at 10:15 Wednesday morning, listen for the drill and be prepared to drop cover and hold.