The rumbling noise starts softly, gradually increasing until the booming is so loud you can feel it in your chest. Suddenly, the movement starts – slow at first but, before long, violently thrusting you front-to-back, side-to-side.
Images of buildings crumbling, people panicking and black smoke billowing flash before your eyes on a big-screen TV.
What seems like several minutes pass as you hold on for dear life, your hands gripping the handles in front of your chair, the only thing stopping you from being flung from your seat.
The experience is called the Quake Cottage, and last week, students in White Rock had the chance to test out the mobile earthquake simulator, which was in town for Emergency Preparedness Week. The cottage was on site at the White Rock Fire Hall Thursday, as part of a four-day tour throughout the Lower Mainland.
The Peninsula stop saw more than 150 excited elementary students experience the sensation of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.
While the students reacted much the way they would to an amusement-park ride – with excited screams and nervous laughter – the underlying message was not lost on them.
White Rock firefighter Ed Wolfe gathered a group of shaken Grade 6 students to talk about the importance of emergency preparedness.
“A real earthquake wouldn’t be as fun as the ride,” one student pointed out.
“If there was an earthquake and you needed to get under a desk, would you crawl or walk?” another student asked.
“You would get there the quickest and safest way possible,” Wolfe replied.
Speaking to Peace Arch News after the event, Wolfe explained one of the main objectives was to relay the importance of having items in their homes and classrooms secured.
“Allowing them to see how violent the shaking is, and why they need to be securing things to the walls, these are all things that they should be thinking about, and their parents too,” he said, noting residents should have a plan in place for all types of disasters.