Elevator Safety

Excellent article on elevator safety. Written for the NY Daily News, but applicable to all elevators:

Stuck in an elevator? New York City brass say sit tight.

Five people died and 51 were injured in 56 elevator accidents across the city last year, and the most gruesome deaths and dismemberments were often trapped New Yorkers trying to save themselves, according to the Department of Buildings.

“It’s horrible and something the mayor is very concerned about,” said New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler, who is launching a citywide “Stay Safe. Stay Put” public awareness campaign on Wednesday to encourage elevator passengers to remain inside stalled cars.

To elevate awareness the DOB is running a new ad campaign in print, bus shelter ads, radio spots and a new video to brief commuters on staying calm in stalled elevator cars.

Millions of New Yorkers ride the city’s 71,000 elevators without incident each day, which Chandler said has led to many passengers feeling a false sense of security and taking risks when accidents do happen.

Recent horror stories include a lower East Side man killed on New Year’s Day after trying to escape from a stuck elevator that began moving. Another man’s head was fatally pinned between the elevator roof and the building floor in Williamsburg last October while trying to escape a stalled car.

Chandler said his department was commissioned by the de Blasio administration to get the safety message out. “In the last 10 years, [injuries] have significantly decreased from 105 in 2007 to 51 in 2015,” he said. “We would like it to be zero.”

So what should you do if one of your worst city fears comes true?

Ring the alarm: Push the elevator’s alarm button, which will summon help. You can also call the emergency number on the elevator plate (if there is one) or 911 on your cell phone.

Relax, because help is on the way: The story of the Beijing woman who died after being trapped and forgotten about in an elevator for more than a month is the exception to the rule. “I’m speculating here, but the FDNY will probably be there in 20 minutes, give or take,” said Chandler. “We are a vertical world here in the city. If somebody gets stuck, someone is going to respond in a timely way.”

Wait without prying open the doors: Move toward the rear center of the car and stay calm. Don’t jump up and down or fiddle with the doors, which could upset the brake system, shift the car and make it harder for rescuers to reach you. And do not leave the elevator by any means unless an emergency responder directs you. “People have gotten caught between the floors when the car started moving as they started to get out, and you know how horrible that must have been,” said Chandler.

One thing you don’t have to worry about is a sudden free-fall.

“That is just not going to happen,” assured Chandler, since there is more than one brake keeping the car on track. “My experts here have never heard of a case of that happening.”

In an Emergency:

  • Never use an elevator in a fire; take the stairs.
  • If elevator gets stuck, remain calm and wait for help.
  • Never attempt to pry the elevator doors open.
  • Use the emergency call button.
  • Follow the instructions from the building management.
  • Never attempt to exit a stalled elevator without the help of the building management or emergency responder (e.g. Police, Fire Rescue).
  • Move to the rear center of the elevator and face the doors while waiting for help.

Source: NY Daily News