UBC earthquake sensors can alert many students before schools start shaking

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      If the December 29 earthquake had occurred during school hours, some students would have had an early warning.

      That's  because UBC engineers have created sensors that emit an alarm several seconds before the ground starts shaking. And according to a 2014 UBC news release, they were installed in 50 elementary and secondary schools operated by the Roman Catholic archdiocese.

      Last year, the director of UBC's Earthquake Engineering Research Facility, Carlos Ventura, said that a pilot project in White Rock demonstrated that students get under their desks within five seconds.

      “When the shaking starts you tend to go into denial,” Ventura said. “You think it’s a truck going by, construction, or kids running around and you lose precious seconds that can make a difference between being safe and being injured.”

      UBC professor Carlos Ventura explains how the alarm system works.

      Today, CBC News reported that these sensors are now in 61 schools. According to CBC, Lower Mainland students would have had 13 to 16 seconds warning, whereas those in Victoria would have only had five seconds to prepare.

      That's because the closer these sensors are to the quake's epicentre, the less time there is between the warning and the actual shaking.

      Citytv reported on the alarm system last year.