Utah earthquake preparation and “The Big One”

Jul 8, 2019, 11:58 AM


Graphic compiled by Colby Walker | KSL Newsradio

SALT LAKE CITY — We are 100% likely to have a big earthquake in Utah. The only question is when, according to the Utah Emergency Management’s Earthquake Program Manager Bob Carey.

There have been a number of earthquakes this year in the state of Utah, many around the Bluffdale area. But all of those shakes and quakes aren’t blowing off the pressure and lessening the threat of The Big One.

 Jim Pechmann with the University of Utah Seismograph Stations told KSL Newsradio that the idea that a minor shaker reduces the risk is a myth.

“They don’t act as a safety valve.  In fact, they do increase the probability of larger earthquakes, a little bit,” Pechmann said.

One of the biggest issues that Utah has is the age of our buildings and the way that they were built. The issue, according to Bob Carey, is that many of the buildings in Utah are unreinforced masonry, which is “basically anything made of brick or block that was built prior to 1975.”

“We have a substantial amount of these structures, not only in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County but across the state… you’re looking at in the greater metropolitan area around 140,000 plus structures like this,” Carey said.

Carey also warns that it’s not just the Salt Lake Valley that should be worried. There are also pockets of old unreinforced buildings outside the Salt Lake Valley that can be found in towns like Provo and Ogden as well.

What to do if there is an earthquake

Drop. Cover. Hold On.

That’s the consensus from experts and specialists in emergency preparedness for what to do in case of an earthquake.

Most of the danger that comes during an earthquake isn’t getting swallowed up by a big split in the ground or having a building fall on top of you, experts say.

“A collapse is a rare event. Most [earthquake-related] casualties (injuries) come from the non-structural elements of a building like façades, lighting fixtures or signage,” Carey said.

Much of the old conventional wisdom with what to do during an earthquake like run outside or stand in a doorway, isn’t actually the safest thing to do.

Joe Dougherty, a spokesman with the Utah Division of Emergency Management, says that sometimes, your bed might be the safest place to be.

“If you’re in bed, stay in bed,” he said. “That’s one of the safest places for you. Cover yourself with your pillow, your blankets, just to make sure your head and neck are covered.”

After everything is done shaking, Dougherty said you should get up and reevaluate your situation: make sure that you’re OK and be aware of any heavy shelving or picture frames, any decorations that could fall and injure you.

You can find more information about what to do during an earthquake at The Great Utah Shakeout and

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych, on Wednesday April 24, 202...

Pan Pylas, Associated Press

Rush hour chaos in London as 5 military horses run amok after getting spooked during exercise

LONDON (AP) — Five military horses spooked by noise from a building site bolted during routine exercises on Wednesday near Buckingham Palace, threw off four riders and caused chaos as they galloped loose through central London streets and collided with vehicles during the busy morning rush hour. The commotion erupted when the horses from the […]

1 hour ago

House Speaker Mike Johnson talks to the press after the House passed four foreign aid bills at the ...

Haley Talbot, Lauren Fox and Clare Foran, CNN

Johnson calls on Columbia University president to resign during tense news conference

House Speaker Mike Johnson called on Columbia University’s president to resign Wednesday during a tense news conference.

2 hours ago

Agriculture officials said the fire most likely started after a piece of equipment malfunctioned at...

Emma Keddington and Simone Seikaly

Equipment malfunction suspected after fire at Utah egg farm

A 21,000 square foot barn at Oakdell Egg Farms quickly caught fire when a power washer caught fire.

3 hours ago

FILE: An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesda...

Britt Johnson

Salt Lake City Fire conduct arson investigation Tuesday morning

An arson investigation is underway after several suspicious fires in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

5 hours ago

Wine bottles are pictured at a state liquor store in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020....

Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: How people get drunk WITHOUT drinking

Try explaining this condition to a cop.

5 hours ago

Ahead of the NHL to Utah party on Wednesday, Utahns crowded the plaza of the Delta Center and waite...

Simone Seikaly, Eric Cabrera, Emma Keddington, Adam Small

Utahns showing up for the NHL in Utah

Ahead of the NHL to Utah party, Utahns crowded the plaza of the Delta Center and waited in long lines for the party to start.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Utah earthquake preparation and “The Big One”