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Hey Matt:

I was in a new mid-rise office building in Mission Valley the other day and noticed a button on the elevator marked "earthquake." So if I felt an earthquake I should push the button? And if I did, what would happen?

-- Kenneth Bonus, downtown

Punch it, kick it, poke it in the eye, Ken, nothing will happen. But say you're flying up to the ninth floor in that cable-style elevator and an earthquake hits. Sensors in the people box detect excessive horizontal and vertica movement, the elevator stops, returns to the next lowest floor, the door opens, and the bewildered passengers run screaming into the hall. Or something like that. Oh, yeah. And the red "earthquake" light on the control panel glows. It comes on when the earthquake safety controls kick in. Low-rise, hydraulic elevators don't need them, since you're standing in a box that's sitting on a huge steel piston, not hanging from a cable. Personally, I want the elevator brain trust to come up with a button marked "Outtamyway!" that cancels all intervening stops except your own.

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