Elevators are such a staple of everyday life that most office employees do not even think about stepping into a car every day, even one carrying them hundreds of feet up or down to their destinations. While it is true that massive improvements in safety have been made to this unique mode of transportation since it began to appear in city buildings in the 19th century, accidents still happen.
The most common incident involving elevators may not need to be life-threatening, but it is quite frustrating. While most cases are not as extreme as that of Nicholas White, trapped on a New York City elevator for forty-one hours, nearly everyone knows either first or second-hand of the experience of stalling – commonly known as getting suck – for at least a few minutes.
However, other elevator accidents are less common but far more serious. The safety of elevators in Japan recently came under serious question after a 16-year-old boy was killed when the car he was backing out of with his pick suddenly jerked upward, inflating major damage to his skull. Closer to home, a Houston doctor was decapitated by an malfunctioning elevator in 2003, becoming one of the 30 or so elevator fatalities in this nation every year.
To best avoid this possibility, consider the following safety tips before you take your next vertical ride:
- Use caution around closing doors, never trying to slide in at the last minute. Many people assume that safety sensors are infallible, but this is not always the case. Moreover, many are located near the center of the doors, so if, for whatever reason, you happen to be near the bottom of the car, take special care of your actions.
- Enter and exit cars only at designated floor alignments. One common malfunction of elevator rides involves the door opening when the car has not come to a complete stop or is stuck midway, exposing the shaft below. Even if you are trapped, do not attempt to exit a craft that is stuck in this way. Instead, call for help and wait for crews to properly align the car.
- Related to the point above, always keep clear of open elevator shafts. Apart from the obvious possibility of falling in, some office building have very fast-moving cars that could catch you unawares from above or below if curiosity gets the better of you.
- Finally, be way of any suspicious activity on the part of potential fellow riders. Never take unnecessary risks when feeling uncomfortable with those around you.
Liability is a major issue for those who own, operate, and service elevators. If you or someone you love has been affected by an elevator accident, you should consider the possibility of legal compensation for your difficulties.