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SALT LAKE CITY — Did you know that earthquakes have hit 39 states in the last century and caused damage in all 50 states? It's true. And you probably already know that Utah is quite seismically active and that researchers anticipate a big earthquake here in our future. We might not see as many earthquakes as they do in California, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be prepared.
As we near the 107th anniversary of the huge 8.3 magnitude quake in San Francisco on April 17, 1906, and following Utah's Great Shakeout, we at AAA Utah would like to pass along some earthquake preparedness tips. Preparation and practice are key when it comes to weathering an earthquake, so here are 6 important things to know:
Depending on the size of the earthquake, it could break pipes or down wires. Make sure you know how to safely turn off the gas and water to your home.
Create an Earthquake Survival Kit
This is one of the most important steps you can take. The kit should include canned goods, two to four quarts of water per person per day, sanitary supplies, a camp stove, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and spare batteries. If you have pets, make sure to include carrying cases and food for them as well.
Know How to Shut Off Your Home's Gas, Water and Electricity
Depending on the size of the earthquake, it could break pipes or down wires. Make sure you know how to safely turn off the gas and water to your home and that you know where you can shut off your home's electricity. Never try to move downed power lines. Also, make sure your water heater is securely fastened to a wall or post with two metal straps.
Conduct Family Earthquake Drills
Oftentimes our kids' schools teach them what to do if an earthquake hits while they are at school, but it's equally important for them to know what to do if they're at home. Make sure everyone knows which areas in a room are the safest; this may be underneath a table or against a wall. Stay away from windows, fireplaces and tall furniture.
Decide Where Your Family Will Meet Up if You are Separated
Choose a friend or relative you can call after an earthquake to let them know your location and condition.
Choose a friend or relative you can call after an earthquake to let them know your location and condition. Because telephone services are often overloaded or damaged in an earthquake, it is important to specifying one point of contact for your entire family will help avoid a strain on the system. And in the event that all telephone services are out, have a place you all know to meet should you be unable to connect via phone.
Childproof Your Cabinet Doors
It may seem like an annoyance initially, but installing latches on your cabinet doors can prevent them from flying open in an earthquake. By properly securing the doors you can keep precious belongings from spilling out and breaking.
Check Your Insurance for Earthquake Coverage
Knowing what coverage you have can help speed up your recovery after a quake. Most homeowner's policies do NOT cover damage resulting from an earthquake and in most cases a separate earthquake policy is needed. You can find out more Here.
And, last but not least, one of the most important things to know is what to do when an earthquake actually hits: [Utah earthquakes](<http://ussc.utah.gov/pdf/prepare/eq_dch.pdf' target=_blank>duck, cover and hold! Duck or drop down to the floor, take cover and hold on to something sturdy.
Having a plan for these kinds of emergencies is vital, but so is knowing that plan by heart. Practicing routine drills at work, at school and at home can help you and your family make safe choices when disaster strikes. Be prepared and be safe!
Visit these websites to get more information on ), [The Great Utah Shakeout](http://www.shakeout.org/utah/) or [AAA Insurance](http://utah.go.aaa.com/insurance/).
Rolayne Fairclough handles media relations, government relations and community involvement for AAA Utah.