More than 900,000 people across the state will be buckling down during The Great Utah Shakeout on Thursday. The annual statewide earthquake preparedness drill is designed to get Utahns ready for the real deal.

The Utah Department of Public Safety's Division of Emergency Management organizes the shakeout every year through its "Be Ready" initiative, which seeks to arm Utahns with the skills and knowledge they need to avoid falling victim to an unexpected natural disaster.

"Stay put, stop, drop, cover your head and hold on," explained Wade Mathews, spokesman for the Division of Emergency Management, referencing the immediate actions that you should take should you find yourself in an earthquake.

The recommended earthquake safety procedure says people should avoid entering or exiting any buildings once the ground starts to shake because earthquakes can cause structural damage to buildings and present more hazards — like shattering glass and falling debris.

Additionally, it is recommended that no matter where you are, one of the key factors to making it through an earthquake safely is to just stay put, according to Mathews. Get low to the ground, and cover your head to protect it from any falling debris that may be created by an earthquake.

If possible, you should also take cover under a sturdy table or desk and hold onto those objects while the earthquake runs its course, to both protect your head from falling debris and keep the table or desk from sliding.

While the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Magna in 2020, and was felt along the Wasatch Front, may have pushed the possibility of facing another earthquake to the forefront of the minds of many Utahns, Mathews says it's important to realize that being prepared for an earthquake is more of a habit to build rather than something people set and forget. The potential for a larger earthquake along the Wasatch Front is still a very real threat for most Utahns today.

"We have about a 50-50 chance that we will see a magnitude 6 to 7.5 quake along the Wasatch Fault in the next 50 years," Mathews said. "So the threat is still very real."

Participation numbers for The Great Utah Shakeout are already surpassing last year's total of 880,000. As of Monday evening, three days ahead of the statewide safety drill, over 900,000 Utahns and 325 K-12 schools have pledged to participate in the shakeout this year.

"Our goal is a million people," Mathews said, explaining that reaching 1 million participants would mean that just shy of one-third of Utah's population is actively taking steps to understand how to be prepared to safely navigate themselves and their families through an emergency brought on by an earthquake.

Another important consideration to take when preparing for an earthquake is to make sure that you have an adequate, readily accessible supply of food and water. Emergency management experts recommend maintaining a minimum of a two-week supply of food and water that can be used in an emergency.

"Do the best you can with what you have," Mathews said. "Anything is better than nothing at all."

Utahns should also consider including batteries and battery-powered AM/FM radios in their disaster supply kits, which can prove useful in an emergency if telephone communications are disrupted. Mathews also recommended that Utahns consider leaving a pair of comfortable shoes and a flashlight near their bed in case disaster strikes while they're still in bed.

Another facet of being prepared for an earthquake is making adjustments to your home that can serve to mitigate further collateral damage. Some adjustments include fastening large furniture and water heaters to the wall, making sure that there isn't anything stored above the beds in a household, using child locks to secure cabinets, and making sure that heavy items are stored on lower shelves. In an earthquake, items left unsecured or on shelves may become dangerous pieces of debris.

“We want to thank everyone who is helping to promote the shakeout and everyone who is participating this year,” Mathews said, adding that the Division of Emergency Management hopes that those who are knowledgeable on earthquake preparedness spread their knowledge to their friends, families and neighbors.