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The following column was originally published in the Deseret News on Jan. 9
By Joe Dougherty
For the Deseret News

Utah is Earthquake Country. Sure it is. Every year, seismologists at the University of Utah record around 800 quakes. Most of them aren't strong enough to be felt, but a few times a year some community in Utah gets the luck of the draw to have a shaker that rattles them for a few seconds. It's just a reminder that most of the state's population lives right next to a sleeping giant. The Wasatch Fault has a major earthquake about every 350 years. The last one: 350 years ago.

When I say major earthquake, I'm talking about a 7.0 -- something that would cause thousands of deaths and injuries, disruption to utilities, building collapse and ruined transportation. Initially, we would see chaos and destruction -- a catastrophe.

So we plan, prepare and train while Mother Nature has given us time. You can, too.

On April 17 at 10:15 a.m., the state of Utah will hold the first statewide earthquake drill, and the largest of its kind ever to be held in the state. It's called the Great Utah ShakeOut.

We're asking Utahns from all walks of life to stop what they're doing and drop, cover and hold on for one minute. Then, when the "shaking" stops, review your emergency plan and emergency kits and conduct a home hazard hunt. Prepare your home by securing heavy objects, such as the water heater, furniture and TVs. Don't have a plan or a kit? In future columns I'll explain how to gather and build your personal emergency preparedness supplies.

But as your New Year's resolution to be ready for disaster in 2012 gets under way, the first step to completing that resolve is to register for the ShakeOut at ShakeOut.org/Utah. By allowing yourself to be counted, you join 564,000 other Utahns - including local government, 11 school districts, seven colleges and universities and various private businesses - who are committed to being prepared. See if your organization is on the list . Let's make that number grow. Registration allows you to receive further preparedness information about how to prepare. The website provides resources to help you plan your drill and share the ShakeOut with your friends and family.

A major earthquake would be devastating, turning your world upside down, but I don't want to just scare you. I want to help you get the tools and information you'll need when the shaking stops and recovery begins.

Joining the ShakeOut is a great first step. Each week, until the end of April, I'll bring you the best preparedness tips to get you ready. If you can't wait that long, go to BeReadyUtah.gov . It's all there. We're all in this. If we prepare together, we can survive together.

 

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