OGDEN -- Since 1847, Utah has experienced 16 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.5 or greater.
Experts say we're overdue for another one and want residents prepared to deal with the aftermath of a major shake.
Lance Peterson, director of emergency management for the Weber County Sheriff's Department, said the state has a major earthquake about every 350 years. That's comforting news, he said, until you realize it has been more than 350 years since the state last shook so hard.
"There are disasters where we can warn people ahead of time, but earthquakes happen unexpectedly so it's important that we have a plan in place," he said.
Peterson spoke at Weber State University during an earthquake preparedness fair on Saturday. He said Weber County is making great efforts to be prepared for an earthquake and spoke about what could happen along the Wasatch Fault.
"We are sitting on the fault line right now," he said. "In fact, the fault line runs right through Wildcat Stadium. A lot of people think the majority of the damage will be right here on the fault line, but that's not exactly true."
That's because the point where energy waves are released can spread out and become the epicenter. That means cities such as Roy and West Haven could potentially have more damage than the homes behind the university.
"There are also a lot of things people worry about that probably won't happen," he said. "Hooper is not going to be swallowed up, Ogden won't become a beachfront town. Pineview Dam is actually pretty safe, and our bridges are built with strong earthquake codes in place, so hopefully we can ride out a earthquake pretty well."
However, a large earthquake will cause considerable damage, and Peterson said it's important for people to be as prepared as possible, not only at home but at work as well.
"If you can keep your business running, you can keep some cash flow and that will help the socioeconomic situation greatly," he said. "On 9/11, there were probably 1 million people out of a job that day, and it had a tremendous socio-economic impact. What becomes an immediate crisis can turn into a long-term problem for years to come, so you need to ask yourself, 'Does my business have a plan? Are there ways to keep the door open after a disaster?' "
Peterson said although building codes in Utah now have strict seismic provisions, many older buildings and homes have not been retrofitted to meet the updated codes. Fixing those problems should be on your list of priorities as well as securing bookshelves, filing cabinets, refrigerators and other items that can topple over.
"And don't practice the triangle-of-life survival method where you run for the nearest door frame. It doesn't work and can actually be dangerous. Instead, drop to the ground, cover your head and hold on," he said.
Other speakers talked about the need for emergency kits, keeping your pets safe and the geology of the Wasatch Front. During the fair, many businesses were on hand to provide information. Children also participated in a variety of activities including a tug of war, egg shake, egg drop and egg slide.