County Shakes Things Up with New Earthquake Replicating Vans
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.
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."
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.