KUED's 'Preparing for Disaster' should be required viewing for all Utahns

Published: Monday, April 15 2013 5:35 p.m. MDT

In this photo taken Friday, July 8, 2011, a building is destroyed in downtown Christchurch, New Zealand.

Martin Hunter, Associated Press

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Seconds make the difference between life and death. The more prepared you are and the more training you receive, the likelihood of surviving a disaster is dramatically increased.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., KUED airs “Preparing for Disaster: Are You Ready?” Locally produced, the educational program should be required viewing for all Utahns.

Local emergency preparedness officials are interviewed, and each stresses the importance of personal responsibility during a disaster.

First, begin with a plan, viewers are instructed, and then slowly acquire the necessary items you and your family will need when a disaster strikes.

The one-hour documentary begins with a review of the devastation following the Christchurch, New Zealand, earthquake in February 2011, and interviews community members describing the events and explaining how ill-prepared they were. Hurricane Sandy victims are also interviewed, along with a few Utahns who were affected by the Herriman, Utah, fires.

The objective is not to alarm viewers, but encourage them to begin the necessary preparations.

Wednesday is the Great Utah ShakeOut event, sponsored by Be Ready Utah, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other organizations. Much of the information “Preparing for Disaster” covers can be read on shakeout.org.

April is also Earthquake Preparedness Month, and viewers are reminded that 80 percent of Utah’s population lives along the Wasatch Fault, the largest fault of its type in the world. Stretching from Southern Idaho, through Northern Utah, the 240-mile fault is made up of several segments, on average 25 miles long, each of which can independently produce earthquakes as powerful as a local magnitude of 7.5.

“You watch the news and someone says, ‘I never thought it’d happen to me, always someone else.’ Well, that’s what we need to prepare for,” Logan Sisam, emergency services director of the Utah region of the American Red Cross, explains during the program.

Viewers will learn how to create emergency communication plans and are walked through the process of building a 72-hour kit. “As you look at all of the lists that are out there for an emergency kit, I bet everyone already has a lot of those things in their home,” says Margaret Oler of Rocky Mountain Power. “The thing is, they’re probably scattered.”

The one-hour program also includes community efforts to organize and prepare, including a look at the earthquake plan at Salt Lake City’s Madeleine Choir School.

“When a disaster strikes, it is unlikely that emergency responders will be able to immediately address everyone’s needs,” says Joe Prokop, KUED’s “Preparing for Disaster” producer. “So it’s up to you, your family and neighbors to communicate and prepare in advance.”

Following the documentary at 8 p.m. is “Next Steps: Utah Prepares for Disaster,” a half-hour follow-up program with a panel of local experts hosted by KUED’s Mary Dickson. “People want to know, ‘What’s the first thing I should do?’” says Dickson. “The answer varies depending on if you’re at home, at work or in school.”

Viewers will be able to call in during both programs to request a free Utah Emergency Preparedness Guide with tips on how to be prepared for a variety of disasters.

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