There’s an earthquake — what do you do now?
Mar 18, 2020, 9:42 AM | Updated: 1:06 pm
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Utahns are brushing off the adrenaline after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Wasatch Front Wednesday morning. The quake was the largest Utah has felt since 1992, when a 5.9 shook St. George.
For many, the seismic event was a wake up call as to whether they’re prepared for an unexpected event like this to happen.
The Wasatch fault line stretches 250 miles across central Utah all the way up to southern Idaho. Roughly 85% of Utahns live within 15 miles of this fault, with scientists forecasting a 50% chance of a major earthquake striking within the next 50 years.
So, how does one prepare for an event like this?
Before the earthquake hits
To protect against the effects of an earthquake, experts suggest preparing long before the moment arrives. Practicing drills of ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ will be one of the most effective methods of preparation, according to ready.gov of the Department of Homeland Security.
The agency also recommends securing heavy items on bookshelves and moving them closer to the ground. Securing items that hang from the walls is another way to ensure nothing will fall and hit someone in the event of a quake.
It also suggests assembling an emergency kit that includes enough food and water for at least three days, as well as emergency items like a flashlight and power generator.
“Consider each person’s specific needs, including medication,” it says on the ready.gov website. “Have extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment. Do not forget the needs of pets and service animals.”
What to do during the earthquake
If you are inside when the earthquake hits, the United States Geological Survey stresses that you should stay inside. Initiate the ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ drill by moving under a table or desk to hang on to. If those are unavailable, you should move into a hallway or against an inside wall.
It’s important to remember to stay clear from any windows, fireplaces or areas where heavy items can fall on you.
Do not run to the kitchen. In the event of an earthquake, this is a dangerous place to be, according to USGS. That’s because there are several items that can fall.
Most importantly, remember to not run downstairs or rush outside while the building is shaking.
On the other hand, if you are outside when an earthquake shakes, get into an open space if possible. Avoid congregating by buildings, power lines, chimneys or anything that can fall.
If you’re driving, stop your car if possible and get as far away from traffic as you can. However, don’t stop if you’re under a bridge, overpass, power lines, etc.
Do not exit the vehicle until the shaking has stopped.
1/ Answering your questions: What do you do in an #earthquake?
• If in bed: Stay there, cover your head with blankets and pillow.
• Anywhere else: DROP to the ground, take COVER under something sturdy, HOLD ON until the shaking stops.
— Utah Emergency Mgmt (@UtahEmergency) February 25, 2019
Even after the shaking has stopped, there are still safety precautions to take to ensure safety.
First, expect aftershocks to follow the mainshock.
If you’re in a damaged building, exit quickly and move as far away as possible. Don’t enter any damaged buildings for any reason until it is cleared.
Natural Gas Protocol after an earthquake for single family dwellings and other buildings: pic.twitter.com/3goSKjF8zL
— Unified Fire (@FireAuthority) March 18, 2020
To get in contact with family members, text is more reliable than phone calls. Save the call to contact emergency authorities, and text message your family.
If you get trapped, protect your eyes and mouth from dust. If possible, use a whistle to alert authorities of your location rather than yelling or screaming.
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