Experts discuss likelihood of large earthquake in Utah, offer preparedness tips

Posted at 9:33 PM, Aug 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-25 09:14:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The destruction witnessed in Northern California following a 6.0 magnitude earthquake should be a wake up call to citizens here in Utah. Our state could be next.

That's the message Utah Emergency Management is sending out.

"We have the real possibility of having a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Utah at any time," said Joe Dougherty of Utah Emergency Management.

There have already been five 3.0 magnitude earthquakes in Utah so far this year.

Many older houses in historic neighborhoods, like The Avenues, West Capital and Sugar House, are very susceptible, according to architect Soren Simonsen.

"A lot of these homes predate building codes," Simonsen said. "We wouldn't expect that every home would be damaged or collapse but certainly many will."

Simonsen said within the last 30 years, the state's building requirements have drastically changed.

"Building codes constantly evolve and major updates come out every three years, and every time a seismic event like we saw today happens we learn more about how to be better prepared," Simonsen said.

Many public entities, like schools, churches and the Capitol, have had seismic upgrades.

Dougherty said 75 percent of Utah families are prepared for a natural disaster.

"People need to realize, in an earthquake, especially a devastating earth quake, they may be on their own for some time," Dougherty said.

Dougherty said the first step to being prepared is establishing disaster supply kits. One for home, one for your car and one for work.

"They can have food, water, extra clothing, battery powered radio, light source and a heating source as well," Dougherty said.

The state also says if a large earthquake hits, like in Napa Valley, don't expect to rely on everyday conveniences to help you out.

"People need to prepare to function without their cell phones and electricity for an extended period of time, and we don't know how long that will be," Dougherty said. "We don't know where an earthquake will strike or when it will strike."

September is also National Preparedness Month. For more information on preparing for natural disasters, click here.