People Stuck in the Elevator – It was storming pretty bad outside the hotel my wife and I were at. All day long red flag warnings were out on the beach, so we decided to stay at the hotel for supper. We were strolling towards the elevator as winds howled outside and I said, “You know, I’ve never been stuck in an elevator.” with a laugh. I pushed the button and she said, “Well you just jinxed us.”
Both of us chuckled a bit and then we heard the inviting and all too familiar “ding” as the doors opened and we stepped onboard. The doors swiftly closed behind us but then the lights flickered and we heard an unexpected clunk.
Obviously the power had been interrupted and as a result the elevators in the entire hotel came to a screeching halt. Not only that, but I am sure all sorts of services were interrupted throughout the property. As we stood there we both knew better than to panic, so we waited.
That episode got me to thinking, if I were in charge of the building what should be done? I write a lot about elevators, but I rarely write on what the building owner or property manager should do when the elevator thuds to a halt. Not that this happens often.
Elevators get stuck rarely in the United States and injuries are even rarer. Especially considering that elevators move nearly the entire world’s population or 10 billion passengers a week. There is the occasional power outage or mechanical problem, but statistically only 1 elevator ride in 12 million or so results is some kind of issue and when it does happen it is extremely minor in nature.
But, my mind could not help thinking about when you are in charge and people are getting stuck in the elevator. What should be done? So, I came up with a list of steps if it ever happens to you. Feel free to borrow or print any of this list and keep it for a reference or reminder. Just remember the most important thing is to make sure the passengers stay safe and you do what you can to get the elevator moving as quickly as possible.
One last thing, everyone on staff should know if you are the auto-dialed, priority call for the elevator car. Sometimes the emergency phones are programmed to contact the non-emergency police or fire department in the local jurisdiction. They can also be programmed to contact your elevator service company directly. No matter who is called automatically, it still does not relieve you of your obligations to the passengers. So find out what floor and open a dialog. It shows you care. Most importantly don’t let people just stand there wondering. If you do they will be thinking more of escape than waiting which is always a danger.
Fortunately for my wife and I the emergency was relatively brief unlike Nicolas White. He spent 41 hours trapped in an elevator. When the power came back on in our case, the elevator system was reset and we zoomed down to the lobby without a further care in the world. We enjoyed a great gourmet meal and had several fun conversation about getting stuck…
But we did take the stairs back to our room.
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