Great Utah Shakeout tests state’s earthquake preparedness

SALT LAKE CITY -- The great Utah Shakeout involved close to a million Utahns who participated in an earthquake drill and reviewed plans for what to do when the big one hits.

It's organized by the Utah Division of Emergency Services.

Joe Dougherty, Division Spokesman, said quakes are more common in Utah than most folks realize.

"We say that Utah is earthquake country," he said. "We know that an earthquake can happen at any time. Most people don't know that Utah has about 800 earthquakes every year."

At the core of the drill is a simple rule to drop, cover and hold on. In other words, get under a solid piece of furniture and hold onto it in case the shaking moves the furniture itself.

Drill participants stayed under their desks or tables for a minute and then grabbed emergency kits and exited their buildings to a prearranged meeting place, where they could make sure everyone was safe.

In a real earthquake, the recommendation is to stay under the furniture until the shaking stops.

Earthquakes are impossible to predict, but geologists say a large quake along the Wasatch Front will eventually happen, likely reaching somewhere between magnitude six and seven.