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Campaign urges Utahns to 'Be Ready' for disasters

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. That's why state officials are urging Utahns to "Be Ready."

For 10 years, the Be Ready Utah campaign has urged Utahns to be prepared when disaster strikes. The greatest risk for widespread damage in Utah is an earthquake, but wildfires, floods, winter storms and even terrorist attacks should be part of the planning, state officials said.

"We need to be prepared for all of those different types of hazards, even terrorism possibly," said Wade Mathews, manager of Be Ready Utah. "The family disaster plan elements will work for terrorist attacks as well, which are meant to disrupt services and disrupt communities. So having food and water storage, having that family communications plan will help with all of those different types of hazards."

To be ready for a disaster, families need to come up with a plan, such as all emergency contacts, places to stay, escape routes and meeting places, Mathews said.

Then, he said, Utah families should prepare a 72-hour kit that includes one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days; at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food and infant formula for babies; medications; tools, including a flashlight and a battery-operated radio to receive emergency information; and clothing and blankets.

"Those are the five main things, but I want to emphasize the importance of personalizing your kit,” Mathews said. “If there is something that would make someone happy, healthy and comfortable every day, put it in the kit.”

Also recommended in the kit is a whistle to signal for help; a dust mask to help filter contaminated air; plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place; and a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

Families with young children could also add books, games, puzzles and other activities to keep them occupied during a disaster.

If the family has pets, they should have a kit for them as well that includes bowls, litter box, medicine, first aid supplies and health records, leashes and pet carriers.

Also, know the protective actions to take during disasters:

• In an earthquake: Drop, cover and hold on.

• In flooding: Turn around, don't drown, go to higher ground.

• For lightning: When the thunder roars, go indoors.

"Knowing those protective actions and those little phrases so that we automatically know what to do, instead of panicking and freaking out, we can take those protective actions,” Mathews said.

The Great Utah Shakeout, the state's earthquake preparedness drill, is set for April 21. On that day at 10:15 a.m., Utahns are encouraged to drop, cover and hold on. When the shaking stops, it's time to check on family members, neighbors and friends.

"We try to encourage people to make a plan, get a kit, be informed and get involved for all of the hazards we face here in Utah,” Mathews said.

For more information on what to do to prepare for a disaster, go to Utah.gov./BeReady.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

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Jed Boal

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