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‘Earthquake Lady’ Trains Residents on Preparedness

Oct 06, 2016 03:57PM ● Published by Tori LaRue

Maralin Hoff, Utah Department of Public Safety outreach specialist, demonstrates emergency preparedness strategies at the Taylorsville Senior Center on Sept. 8. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com


People ask Maralin Hoff if she has a real name. To many people, she’s simply the “Earthquake Lady.”

Hoff secured a job at the Utah Department of Public Safety 21 years ago. As the outreach specialist, she reworked the state’s personal and family earthquake and emergency preparedness plans and began presenting her custom 3-D posters and emergency kits in venues across the state. The students at Red Hills Middle School in Richfield tagged her with the name “Earthquake Lady,” and it stuck. It’s even on her business cards. 

Hoff presented at Taylorsville’s Emergency Preparedness Fair on Sept. 8, sharing her passion and knowledge about personal and family emergency preparedness kits and plans. She was the “main event” at the fair, according to Ben Gustafson, Taylorsville emergency manager. 

“The purpose of the event is really to get as much information out as we can,” Gustafson said. “By us having the residents ready for an emergency, they are ready to take care of themselves, and the professional responders aren’t put in a situation where they have to help somebody because they are already OK by the time they get there.” 

The city hosted the fair in the Taylorsville Senior Center, and about 50 residents came. Unified Police Department, Unified Fire Authority, disaster response group Team Rubicon, Community Emergency Response Teams and Utah Amateur Radio Club hosted booths at the event before Hoff’s keynote presentation.

Hoff brought enthusiasm to the subject of preparedness as she waved her hands around and displayed visuals of preparedness items in her hourlong presentation. She encouraged families to create an emergency communication plan complete with emergency contacts, an outside of home meeting place and a neighborhood meeting place. 

She said every household should have an emergency plan and several kinds of emergency kits, including a vehicle emergency kit, a bedside emergency backpack for kids and an emergency porta-potty kit. 

“It just kills me to see people not ready or prepared when they were caught off guard,” Hoff said. “When you prepare like this, you have more knowledge of what to do.” 

Hoff’s vehicle emergency kit included flashlights, road flares, an ice scraper, hand warmers, a fire extinguisher and more. Her child bedside kit, meant to be a portable package for the child to bring in case of emergency, included a flashlight, crayons, a coloring book, bandages, socks and gloves, among other things. 

“Always make sure you have an extra set of batteries in the kits,” Hoff said. “Make sure you switch out the batteries and other supplies every so often to make sure they don’t expire.” 

Hoff’s emergency porta-potty kit is made out of a 5-gallon bucket with a special seat lid called a “Luggable Loo” that can act as an emergency toilet. She stores wipes, Lysol, plastic bags, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a roll of paper towels, air freshener and a liter of kitty litter in the kit. People can add the litter to their potty to reduce unwanted odor, she said. 

Hoff encouraged spectators to buy preparedness kits for their grown children for Christmas. Janet McDougal, a Taylorsville resident, took Hoff up on that challenge a few years ago and gave her children the porta-potty kit for Christmas. 

“They actually love it because they said it was something they wouldn’t have thought to buy themselves,” McDougal said. 

McDougal said she’s seen Hoff present on multiple occasions but continues to follow Hoff’s seminars from year to year because she presents new preparedness ideas that McDougal wants to try out. 

“You never know what will happen,” McDougal said. “I want to be ready.” 

Hoff said she considers it her “mission” to teach residents like McDougal about safety and preparedness. Her preparedness tips can be found online at bereadyutah.gov.    

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