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    Ask an Expert: Tips for earthquake readiness

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    There are a number of steps people can take to prepare for earthquakes, according to experts. Courtesy photo

    With the recent earthquake near Salt Lake City, many people are wondering how they can be prepared if there are more to come.

    Aftershocks following the initial earthquake can occur for hours, days or even months. Earthquakes cannot be predicted — although scientists are working on it. Hundreds to thousands of people could be affected who are relying on their own preparations and one other. Consider these tips to help.

    Make a plan for how you are going to communicate with your family after a disaster. Ideas for family emergency communication plans can be found at beready.utah.gov.

    Practice, practice, practice. Practice using your communication plan. Practice quickly gathering needed items. Practice the guideline to drop, cover and hold on — drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with one hand and get under a desk or table. Then hold on to the desk or table leg with the other hand so it will keep you covered.

    Secure large household items that could fall or move. This includes bookcases, flat screen TVs, large mirrors or pictures with glass, water heaters and any other large items that could fall and cause injury or damage.

    Consider moving beds or sofas away from windows.

    Keep important supplies and documents in a safe and easy-to-locate area.

    Plan for the special needs of those in your household, including young children, the elderly, pets, those with medical concerns or disabilities, etc.

    Be aware of guidelines issued from the Utah Seismic Safety Commission. They can be found at beready.utah.gov.

    If you are inside a building during an earthquake:

    • Drop, cover and hold on.
    • Crawl away from windows.
    • Stay where you are until the shaking stops.

    If you are outside when an earthquake hits:

    Move away from buildings, streetlights and overhead wires. Once out in the open, drop, cover and hold on.

    If you are driving, bring the car to a stop as quickly and safely as you can, and stay in the vehicle. Again, keeping in mind there may be buildings, trees and overhead utility wires to watch for.

    While we may not be able to predict where and when an earthquake might hit again, if we prepare now, we will be able to help ease the trauma to ourselves and those around us.

    For additional information, visit the Red Cross website at redcross.org or the Federal Emergency Management Agency at fema.gov.

    Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences educator, (801) 399-8200, teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu.

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