Though Tuesday morning will appear as any other day on SUU’s campus (knock on wood), the students, faculty and staff will take extra precautions as a practice run for earthquake preparedness on Southern Utah University’s campus as part of The Great Utah Shake Out, a statewide earthquake drill that will prove the state’s largest single emergency drill to date.
More than 500,000 Utahns will be participating in the Shake Out, set to begin at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, including school districts, state and local government agencies, hospitals, universities and banks across the state.
This drill is targeted to refresh Utahns about what to do in the event of an earthquake along the Wasatch Fault, the state’s largest and most dangerous fault line, which has lain nearly dormant for years and is long overdue for a major quake.
Especially given its transient audience, with new students joining its ranks every semester, the University is making this drill a top priority as a way to better ensure students and employees alike are primed and ready for the state’s leading risk of natural disaster.
Professors and departments are prepared across campus to interrupt their daily routines for the earthquake drill. The campus wide emergency notification system will also be tested.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate, and University officials are eager to see how the campus community reacts as they continue to refine emergency protocol.
As a refresher, the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” method is the safety protocol for minimizing risk during an earthquake. Shakeout.org outlines this method. First, DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you); second, take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or desk; and third, HOLD ON to the table or desk legs until the shaking stops.
Those who are not close to a table or desk are urged to drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building and to use their hands and arms to cover the neck and head. The key, according to emergency protocol, is to immediately get down to the ground and protect the head and neck rather than trying to move to a new location. This method is held as best practice for the following reasons:
• Trying to move during the shaking puts the individual at risk to fall. It is better to drop before the earthquake drops you to the ground, as you will have a better presence of mind to find shelter or protect yourself.
• The greatest danger in earthquakes comes from falling and flying objects. This risk far outweighs the risk of being caught in a collapsed building, and cover under a stable surface will prove your best protection against debris as well as best provide the opportunity to create survivable void space should the building you are in collapse.
For more information about earthquake preparedness, including tips about how to secure your space in advance and plan location-specific emergency strategies, visit shakeout.org/Utah.