Utah residents prepare for earthquakes with ‘Great Utah ShakeOut’

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Utah residents prepare for earthquakes with 'Great Utah ShakeOut'

More than 870,000 Utah residents practiced their earthquake preparedness skills as part of the annual Great Utah ShakeOut Thursday morning.

More than 870,000 Utah residents practiced their earthquake preparedness skills as part of the annual Great Utah ShakeOut.

While some may not first think of Utah when it comes to earthquakes, Division of Emergency Management officials, who hosted the Thursday morning event, said 90% of Utah residents live in active earthquake zones.

“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,” emergency management officials said on the Great Utah ShakeOut website.

“Large earthquakes are possible anywhere in Utah, but they are most likely in a ‘seismic belt’ about 100 miles wide extending north — south along the Wasatch Front and through Richfield to Cedar City and St. George. Utah averages a magnitude 6 earthquake once every 15 to 20 years.”

This is the 11th year for the event, and participation was up from 730,000 last year.

Officials advised residents to drop, cover and hold on to protect themselves during an earthquake. During the drill, school children dropped to the floor and crouched under desks.

Utah officials said some residents may discount earthquake hazards based on the near absence of moderate-to-large earthquakes, but the potential is real.

“Most people living in Utah today have not experienced a damaging earthquake in the state,” the Great Utah ShakeOut officials said. “They are unaware of the long-time intervals between large earthquakes on faults in the Basin and Range Province.

“Comparing the average recurrence interval with the amount of time since the last large earthquake indicates that the next large earthquake is becoming increasingly likely on certain parts of the Wasatch fault.”

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