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County Shakes Things Up with New Earthquake Replicating Vans

A Shakey-Quakey/Courtesy of LA County Board of Supervisors
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Don't overeat during lunch, schoolchildren of Los Angeles -- the county is about to unveil three new vans that are designed to toss you around as if you're in a 3.5 earthquake.

The vans, called "Shakey-Quakeys," are replacing older versions that have been around since the 1980s, county communications deputy Tony Bell told us. The former vans reached over a million schoolchildren in their time.

Shakey-Quakeys can simulate up to an 8.0 earthquake, although kids won't be subjected to that in their practice runs. Instead, they'll experience something more like a 3.5.

The new vans are trailer-mounted and more high tech than their predecessors, says Bell. They're designed to replicate a classroom, with desks and a chalkboard, so that kids can see exactly what will happen should the big one (or, in this case, the medium-sized one) strike while they're at school.

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Bell says that the idea is to take the fear out of earthquakes for kids, so that they'll remember what they're supposed to do -- duck, cover and hold on.

"If you've never experienced anything like your world shaking, you may not know how to respond and you may panic," he said. The Shakey-Quakey lets kids understand through experience that "this is what it's gonna feel like when it comes."

Fair enough.

The new Shakey-Quakeys will be unveiled on March 12 at Elliot Middle School in Altadena. They'll then begin making the rounds to other elementary and middle schools throughout the year.