Be Ready Utah information: What to do when an earthquake happens.

Earthquakes are a part of the process that shapes the surface of the earth, the process that raises mountains and deepens valleys. Thousands of earthquakes happen each year in the United States, most too small to be felt.

Each year large earthquakes happen; earthquakes that damage property and threaten lives.

Great earthquakes, the size that leveled San Francisco, are less frequent, but a real threat to many areas of the country.

Living with earthquakes requires preparation, taking simple steps before an earthquake to limit its threat.

Review the ideas in this brochure, and more importantly take the steps to protect yourself, your family, and your co-workers, before the next earthquake.

Why is earthquake preparedness important in Utah?

Utah has experienced damaging earthquakes in the past and geologic evidence indicates that earthquakes larger than any experienced locally in historical time are likely in the future.

We must prepare for earthquakes because:

  • Utah is a seismically active region
  • A majority of Utah's population is concentrated in the areas of greatest hazard
  • Many of Utah's older buildings and lifelines have low earthquake resistance

What Will Happen?

It varies from building to building and from floor to floor.

Lower floors will shake rapidly, much like smaller buildings. Unsecured books, plants, and material will fall from shelves. Top-heavy furnishings will fall over. Unsecured light fixtures and ceiling panels may fall.

On upper floors, movement will be slower, but the building will move farther from side to side. Unsecured furniture will slide across the floor. Objects will topple from shelves. Windows will break.

You might feel dizzy and be unable to walk. Sounds bad? Well, there are steps you can take to lessen the threat of a major earthquake.

Cooperate in earthquake preparedness. You’ll be able to help others and yourself.

What Can you Do Now?

Move or secure things that could fall on you. Look for books, potted plants, and heavy objects that could fall and injure you during an earthquake. Move them somewhere else, or secure them.

Heavy objects, such as computer terminals and top-heavy furniture may be a threat. Determine how they can be secured. If they cannot be secured, be ready to move away from them in an earthquake.

Also, be ready to move away from windows. They can break during an earthquake. So can glass in partitions. Stay away.

Store Emergency Supplies

A portable radio for information following a disaster

A flashlight; power may fail in an earthquake

Tennis shoes for ease of movement, especially down stairwells following an earthquake

Food and water; at home keep at least a 3-day supply; at work keep enough for immediate needs

Medicines; store extra supplies of any medications you depend on

Emergency literature, like this brochure; store material you’ll need to refer to in an emergency

Know Emergency Procedures

Know the location of . . .

Emergency exits

Fire alarms

Fire extinguishers

During an Earthquake

Seek cover

Move away from windows, tall file cabinets and other things that could fall

Move under a desk, table or other heavy furniture. As it moves about, hold on, and move with it.

Move against a wall in the interior of the building, cover and protect yourself.

What if I am...

In bed:If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.

In a wheelchair:Lock the wheels once you are in a safe position. If unable to move quickly, stay where you are. Cover your head and neck with your arms.

Outdoors:Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards.

Driving:Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.

In a high-rise:Drop, cover, and hold on. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.

In a stadium or theater:Stay at your seat and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don't try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly watching for anything that could fall in the aftershocks.

Below a dam:Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you live downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan.

After an Earthquake

Help locate the injured

Be especially watchful for people who can’t hear calls for help, or move on their own

Also, help any visitors to your floor

You may need to remain in your building for up to a few days following a large earthquake because transportation and communication systems will be damaged and make travel impossible

By taking a few simple steps, you can better protect yourself, your family, and your co-workers in an earthquake.

You live with the threat of earthquakes everyday. Chances are that you haven’t done anything to prepare for one. That’s too bad because in an hour or two, you can take steps to protect your family and also limit the damage to your home and property. Read this document and take the steps. Someday, possibly tomorrow, You’ll be glad you did.

The recommendations and suggestions included in this document are intended to improve earthquake preparedness. However, they do not guarantee the safety of any individual, structure, or facility. Neither the United States nor the State of Utah assumes liability for any injury, death, or property damage, which occurs in connection with an earthquake.

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