Skip to main content

The City Journals

Four steps to help prepare for a major earthquake

Apr 11, 2018 10:45AM ● By Lori Gillespie

A view of Salt Lake City where an earthquake fault line runs through. Experts say people need a 96-hour kit in case of a disaster. (Pixabay)

People in Sugar House spend their day near an earthquake fault line and it is just a matter of time before a big earthquake hits the area.  In the past, people have all been encouraged to prepare for earthquakes and other potential disasters by having a 72-hour kit. But according to Kenya Rene of the Salt Lake City Emergency Management Office, 72 hours of supplies just isn’t enough. 

“Our population is growing, but the number of our first responders is not. We need to be prepared to take care of ourselves for longer during a disaster,” Rene said. “Everyone needs to plan for 96 hours (four days) worth of supplies per person. We have come to realize from other recent disasters that 72 hours just isn’t enough.”

To help prepare yourself and your home for a major disaster Rene suggested taking these four steps:

Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. This can include attaching bookshelves or other tall objects to the walls, or moving heavy objects close to the floor.

Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency. Sit down as a family and make a plan. How will you account for everyone’s whereabouts and safety? Keep in mind that your family may not be together. How will you communicate? Cell service and other technology may not be available. 

Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. Having enough supplies – water, food, clothing, shoes, blankets, hygiene items, contact lenses – to support every person and pet in your family for a minimum of 96 hours.

Step 4: Minimize financial hardships by organizing important documents, strengthening your property and considering insurance.  Many insurance companies offer earthquake insurance. 

To help with planning, Salt Lake City is making an effort to get more people involved to help with first responders in the event of a disaster. It will be important to leave our homes in the event of an earthquake. Many homes in Salt Lake City will not be safe to inhabit, so the neighborhood schools have been designated as temporary shelter. 

“We have planned S.A.F.E. Neighborhoods (Schools Aid Families in Emergencies) orientations in the communities.” Rene said. “These are meant to educate people on what we all need to do in the event of a disaster and how and where to go and to help educate people on how to reunite families in the case of an earthquake.” 

What is important to remember is that the elementary schools are meant to be a safe place to gather and will have basic supplies only. That is why individual kits are so important. Information on these orientations can be found at

Additionally, volunteers are needed to be trained on how to help during the disaster. People trained in C.E.R.T or Community Emergency Response Teams, are seriously needed. 

“We don’t have enough people to help in the event of a big disaster,” Rene continued. “Our first responders won’t be able to help everyone who will need help.” 

If an earthquake happens, it will cause widespread damage, roads may become impassable and communications will cease. Getting trained in CERT will allow neighborhoods and communities to take care of themselves until additional help arrives. 

“CERT class is one of those classes that train you to respond in any kind of disaster, and to help you administer first aid. Having CERT trained individuals empowers the community,” said Rene.

Information on community orientation training can be found at