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

It’s nearly time. Months of planning and preparing have gotten you ready. Mother Nature even gave Garfield County a magnitude 4.3 earthquake this past week as a physical reminder. Tuesday, at 10:15 a.m., more than 860,000 Utahns will participate as part of the statewide earthquake drill, the Great Utah ShakeOut. This is the largest earthquake drill we’ve ever done as a state. This is a time to test your own plans, supplies and procedures in a simulated earthquake. How will you perform?

First, it’s important you know what to do when an earthquake strikes. Remember to drop to the ground, so an earthquake doesn’t drop you to the ground. Take cover under a sturdy table or desk. Hold on until the shaking stops. When it is safe, exit the building.

There are theories out there about alternate methods of staying safe in an earthquake, but you’re more likely to be injured or killed by things falling or flying around. That’s why you take cover. Statistically, it’s safest to be under a desk or table.

After an earthquake, you assess your surroundings. Is your home or office safe? Do you smell gas? If so, do you know where and how to shut it off? Remember, never shut off the gas unless you can smell it, hear it or see obvious damage to the gas line. Are there injured people near you? Are there small fires you can put out with your fire extinguisher? Small fires are one of the most common threats following an earthquake. If these questions are hard to answer, this is the time to start answering them.

For just a few more weeks, the Deseret News and Utah Disaster Kleenup will bring you these columns to help you know what to do after an earthquake. And as you can see, how you respond depends on how well you prepare. Further preparedness information is always available at BeReadyUtah.gov.

More on what to do after an earthquake:

  • Expect aftershocks.
  • Help trapped or injured neighbors.
  • Don’t move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury or death.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for information.
  • Put on shoes, long pants and gloves to clean up.
  • Open cabinets carefully.
Next week, I’ll bring you more information, as well as a recap of the ShakeOut.

Joe Dougherty is a preparedness expert and the spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management and Be Ready Utah. Send your preparedness tips to [email protected]. Daily preparedness tips available at twitter.com/bereadyutah.