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Play like you practice works for emergencies, too

By Joe Dougherty

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 5 2012 8:58 p.m. MST

Six-year-old Olivia Dougherty shows the right way to drop, cover and hold on in case of an earthquake. Families should practice these techniques together.

Joe Dougherty

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Editor's note: This article is part of a series on earthquake preparation. Read the rest of the articles here.

It's not just coaching lingo you might hear on the basketball court from BYU coach Dave Rose or Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "You play like you practice," works in any arena, especially emergency preparedness.

At Be Ready Utah, the state's emergency preparedness campaign, we're always telling Utahns to make a plan, get a kit, be informed and get involved.

That way, we are ready for any disaster: fire, flood, severe winter storm, extended power outage, zombie apocalypse or that major earthquake for which we are overdue.

Last week, I explained what should be in your emergency communications plan and who should know the plan. (Hint, text your loved ones first.) More emergency preparedness information is available at BeReadyUtah.gov and in a special newspaper insert we produced with the Deseret News and Emergency Essentials about the Great Utah ShakeOut, our first statewide earthquake drill.

Having that emergency plan is important, as important as any first step can be.

But it's what you do with that plan that really counts. And you're not going to do well with it unless you practice it.

Here are some examples.

For fire drills:

Practice taking family members two ways out of every room. This means learning how to open blinds, unlock windows and remove screens.

Practice stop, drop, cover and roll so each family member understands how to put out a fire on their own clothing.

Practice meeting at a predetermined meeting spot.

For earthquakes:

Practice doing a drop, cover and hold on drill. Drop to the ground so an earthquake doesn't knock you down. Cover under a sturdy table or desk. And hold on, so the quake doesn't shake your cover away from you.

Have children practice using your cell phone by sending a text message. Teach them how to dial 911 and that 911 should be used only to save a life or stop a crime. (Best not to practice that part, though.)

In a major earthquake, people who commute to work may only be able to return home by walking. Build your stamina and fitness in case you have to walk home someday.

Join the Great Utah ShakeOut by doing your drill with 700,000 other Utahns on April 17 at 10:15 a.m. If your schedule doesn't work at that time, do a drill sometime that day.

You can download a recording in English or Spanish to play during your drill.

Remember, you play like you practice. Practice now so you'll know what to do when disaster strikes.

Joe Dougherty is a preparedness expert and spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. Send your preparedness tips to jdougherty@utah.gov. Follow us on Twitter @utahemergency, @bereadyutah and @utahshakeout

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