DIW: Quake Alarm Earthquake Detector

ANTHONY, Kan. Anthony, Kansas. Famous for its baked potato pizza and constant earthquakes.

"I would say there for a while, it was once a week a few years ago. And lately, it's probably been once every three weeks or so,” Lori Jensen said.

When she's home, Lori gets her earthquake warning from a china tea cup.

"It will rattle and then other things start rattling the house. But that's the one that senses it first,” Lori said.

We asked her to try another warning system... the "Quake Alarm Earthquake Detector." The product's website says it promises to "provide instant warning of seismic activity" saving you "valuable seconds by removing the guesswork in earthquake detection." That way... you can "immediately take cover or tend to other family members." You can buy one online for $34.95. That does not include shipping and handling.

"There's a stud right there,” Lori said while pounding on her wall.

After going over the instructions, Lori chooses a location for the "Quake Alarm."

"Okay, I'm going for it,” Lori said.

Using the Velcro strips on the back, she sticks the detector to the wall... making sure to keep the pendulum inside the alarm in the middle of the triangular contact. When an earthquake hits, it should move the pendulum to hit the triangular contact... causing the alarm to sound.
Next, Lori's daughter installs the new 9-volt battery. Now it's just about adjusting the sensitivity adjustment screw.

Lori's daughters try to create their own "earthquake" to see if the alarm sounds by jumping up and down.

“It's good that we're not setting it off. But if it's not detecting that... is that going to go off [for an earthquake],” Lori said.

We leave the "Quake Alarm" with Lori for three weeks. During that time frame, there were 67 earthquakes within about 100 miles of Anthony according to the USGS. From 2.5... to the strongest coming in at 4.5 near Pawnee, Oklahoma. Lori wasn't home for all of them. But she was for the 4.5.

"I woke up in the middle of the night and I grabbed my phone and all of a sudden I realized that there was no sound coming off of the device,” Lori said.

The family says the alarm was on a very sensitive setting--they conducted their own test again to make sure.

"We would crank it up and then my sister and I would jump over there by the piano to make sure it worked and it dinged. But it didn't ding when the earthquake started,” Neve Jensen, Lori’s daughter, said.

So, does it work?

"Unfortunately, it does not work,” Lori said.

"I think the device would work closer to the epicenter than Kansas,” Neve said.

I spoke directly to the maker of the "Quake Alarm." He told me... our tester may not have had the alarm on the most sensitive setting. Lori said she checked the sensitivity repeatedly. The owner of the "Quake Alarm" also says the earthquakes we're experiencing in this area may not be strong enough yet to register on the "Quake Alarm."

He says he has been in business for 12 years and there are 60-thousand "quake alarms" in use worldwide.