“Shakeout” Attempts to Prepare Utahns for the Worst

by Mark LeBaron

SALT LAKE CITY- “The Great Utah ShakeOut” was not an ice cream eating festival. It wasn’t the latest dance craze either. It was a statewide earthquake drill that was held on April 17.

Many people participated throughout the state at exactly 10:15 am at schools, work and home by dropping under the nearest table or desk and holding on for one minute. Others evacuated their building following the drill.

Bradley Hunsaker, an atmospheric science major at the University of Utah participated, but didn’t think it was worth the effort to have the drill.

“I didn’t really see much point to the drill. It seemed like it was just to set a record for people participating.” Said Hunsaker.

Some students were aware of the test, but didn’t participate.

“Our class was scheduled to take a test. We had been told to ignore any firefighters and just take the test. The rest of the department left, so we were alone in our little room,” said Joe Bolke, a material science and engineering major at the University of Utah. “Nobody got under the desk, or went to rendezvous.”

Joe had been receiving the emails leading up to the drill, however, and felt prepared in case a real earthquake occurred.

Jared Evans, who works in downtown Salt Lake, didn’t participate in the drill either, but only because his work didn’t push to do it.

“I didn’t even know about it until right before it took place. I saw it on KSL and that is when I found out it was happening.” Said Jared. “The building we work in is really old, so it would actually be beneficial to have a fire and earthquake drill to make sure we make it out ok.”

Most of Utah’s residents live along the Wasatch Fault, which runs from the bottom to the top of Utah. According to the Utah Geological Survey, an earthquake generated from the fault is 50 to 100 years overdue. They estimate that the fault shifts every 350-400 years, and the last earthquake was 500 years ago.

According to the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred, approximately 7,600 people would die and $18 billion would be lost to physical damage and loss of jobs and economic activity.

Preparation for an earthquake is key to surviving potentially devastating damage. Water, food and gas may be unavailable, as well as cell phones, Internet and electricity.

Be Ready Utah, the State’s emergency preparedness campaign, urges all households to have non-perishable food storage of at least three days per person, in case of emergency. Other things to prepare are implementing an evacuation plan and having an emergency kit. Information for these and other useful tips can be found at http://beready.utah.gov/beready/index.html.

The ShakeOut has been held at other places around the United States and the World, like California, British Columbia, Canada and Tokyo, Japan. The next shakeout is set to occur on September 26th of this year, in New Zealand. To find out more information on the shakeouts, visit http://www.shakeout.org.