Earlier in the year, a woman found herself stuck in the elevator of a building on the campus of Cal State University Long Beach. She tried to crawl out to the third floor when the elevator, weighing over 2,000 lbs., moved, crushing her and killing her instantly. For some reason, the doors of the elevator were wedged open between the second and third floors of the building.
While getting stuck in an elevator might seem to be a theatrical vehicle for comedies, reality shows and horror films, it can also be a very real occurrence with deadly consequences. When passengers get stuck in a malfunctioning elevator, do you and your staff know what to do?
Being stuck in an elevator can be an unnerving, even frightening experience, especially when the situation occurs after normal building hours when there are few people in the building. Even where telephones and alarms are provided, if they do not work, the people in the elevator may become claustrophobic and panic.
Below are specific steps you can take to reduce incidents.
Ask About After-Hours Service
Regular service, while not a guarantee of trouble-free elevator operation, it is the first step toward avoiding potential issues. Does your elevator maintenance service agreement provide for emergency procedures and after-hours service should the elevator become stuck?
Install a Back-Up Telephone
Because anyone stuck in an elevator will want to make the outside world aware of the situation, and the alarm button may not be heard in the evenings or on weekends, ensure that each elevator contains an operational telephone connected to a monitored security service, the elevator service company or an answering service. This not only allows the people in the elevator to make you or other staff aware of the situation, it allows staff to assure those people in a stuck elevator that they are safe with help on the way, and to stay calm.
Make Elevators Part of Your Emergency Preparedness Planning
Since the local fire department will become involved with elevator problems, contact them for information and procedures they might already have available. Knowing how to react in the event of an elevator situation is an essential component in overall emergency preparedness plan.
Call in the professionals if you are unsure about how to handle the situation: Unless lives are in immediate danger, passengers should only be removed from a stuck elevator by the elevator service company and/or the fire department.
Simply making sure that communications between the elevator and the outside world are maintained is one of the most important things you can do until the elevator service company and/or the fire department arrives, and may provide the information and comfort needed to prevent a person trapped in a stuck elevator from attempting to try and get out on their own and get injured.
JULIUS PEREIRA III (JULIUSPEREIRA@COMCAST.NET) IS THE OWNER OF PEREIRA CONSULTING IN CHADDS FORD, PA.
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|Title Annotation:||Maintenance Matters; elevators|
|Author:||Pereira, Julius, III|
|Publication:||Journal of Property Management|
|Date:||May 1, 2012|
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