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State giving earthquake preparedness kits to middle and high school students in Teton and Lincoln counties 

Boulders on road in Yellowstone National Park near Gibbon Falls.
National Parks Gallery
Boulders on the road in Yellowstone National Park near Gibbon Falls, following the 1959 Hebgen Lake Earthquake.

On average, hundreds of earthquakes occur each year in Wyoming with the majority taking place in the western region. The state is arming some school children with kits to protect themselves.

The majority of earthquakes that rumble in Wyoming are pretty mild – most people will not feel them. However, some experts say there is the potential for a magnitude 6.5 earthquake to occur anywhere in the state.

So, the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security is dolling out about 200 earthquake preparedness kits to schools in Teton and Lincoln Counties. Both are in areas geologists have identified as high risk for earthquakes. Ashley Paulsrud, the grants and finance section chief for the agency, stressed that there is not an immediate threat.

“It is just a preparedness kit that is designed for 72 hours for a family of four,” she said. “It has things like flashlights, batteries, radios. It has emergency first aid, shelter supplies, water filtration, tablets, fluorescent light sticks, matches gloves, pocket survival guide and a five in one whistle.”

While the kits might be more intuitive for adults, Paulsrud said giving them to kids is actually ideal.

“Students are a very valuable avenue for us when we're talking community preparedness,” she said. “They can take what they learn in school and they take it back to their families and their friends.”

Paulsrud said a grant from FEMA helped fund the kits, which they also distributed a few years ago, adding that in the feature the goal is to give out more kits to more counties.

One of the largest earthquakes in the state was in 1959. It was a magnitude 6.5 in Yellowstone National Park.It was an aftershock from an earthquake in Montana that killed 28 people.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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