Getting trapped in an elevator ranks pretty high on the list of unpleasant life experiences. But it happens more often than you'd think. It is thought that 7 in 1000 people suffer from a fear of confined spaces brought on by the risk of being trapped without a means of escape. In fact, the elevator is one of the most common commercial installations in the world but is also one of the most avoided because more and more passengers are afraid of finding themselves stuck inside a broken-down lift. Luckily, modern elevators are incredibly safe. If you ride an elevator every workday for 25 years, your chances are 1 in 17!
According to statistics, an elevator is said to be 25-times safer than sitting behind the wheel of a car which only emphasizes their reliability on an everyday basis. After all, the likelihood of an elevator breaking down during a journey is incredibly low as long as the mechanics are well-maintained and expertly looked after by the property owner responsible for their care. A lift license is issued to the property owner and which is renewed every year. A lift license is issued by the local authorities who testify that the lift as installed conforms to the safety standards. A lift license is displayed inside the lift cabin and you can check the dates.
When it comes to an elevator malfunction, many people believe that the cab will free-fall to the bottom floor at an incredibly fast speed because this is the way that it is depicted in the movies. Luckily, reality couldn’t be any different! In fact, most elevators breakdown due to general wear and tear because a certain component has reached the end of its lifespan and needs replacing; in these situations, a cab is programmed to slowly come to a halt on the next floor.
Trapped in an elevator as you’re reading this? Call the lift helpline number displayed inside lift cabins with your cell phone if you have service. Otherwise, read on. You’ll be an elevator escape artist in no time.
Try to keep a clear head so you don’t jeopardize your safety. A clear head will also make sound decision-making a lot easier. If you’re in the elevator with other people, try to calm them down, too. Do a breathing exercise or count down from 100—anything to avoid hysteria. Apartment elevators are incredibly safe, and your life is probably not in danger.
If the elevator lights are out, you’ve probably already turned on your phone light or used a keychain light to see. Be careful not to drain your phone’s battery. Use the flashlight to see the elevator buttons and count how many people are in the elevator.
Occasionally, a stuck elevator needs a little bit of troubleshooting you can do yourself. Start by pressing the “door open” button and see if that works, then press the “door close” button. Both of these can get jammed and stop an elevator. If neither works, try pressing the button for a floor below you. You may be laughing, but this quick fix could save you ample time and stress. If these three buttons aren’t working, however, don’t mash them. You might compromise the electronics.
Use your flashlight to find the “call” button, usually marked with the image of a phone. Pressing it will contact a technician to come and help you. It will also alert the maintenance staff that there is a problem with the elevator. If you successfully connect with a maintenance technician, they will be on their way.
The alarm button in an elevator is usually hooked up to a bell that rings to alert people that someone is stuck inside and needs assistance. If you are unable to contact maintenance, ring the bell periodically. People in the building are very likely to hear the alarm and notify someone who can assist you. Nowadays, lifts have a multi way intercoms in which you can not only talk to lift technicians in the machine room but also to the facility managers who manage the building so that anyone is available at the time to rescue the passengers.
If you still can’t get anyone’s attention, try yelling for help. You can also bang a shoe or other object on the door. Sound travels well through an elevator shaft and could alert people throughout the building that you need help. Though it may be difficult, remember to remain calm while you’re making noise.
Even if you do none of the steps above, you have an excellent chance of escaping the apartment elevator within minutes. People throughout the building will notice almost immediately that the elevator is not functioning properly and will call for assistance. You can also try and call someone (if you have service) you know is in the building or is known to people in this building so that they can also expedite things for you.
If you’ve managed to make contact with maintenance or emergency personnel, sit tight. Elevator entrapment calls are taken seriously, and you’ll likely find yourself freed in 30 minutes or less.
In the meantime, make conversation with your neighbors! Ask them about their lives, their work, and their hobbies. If you’re alone in there, occupy yourself with anything you have on hand—or take a power nap (I know its difficult but the idea is try to stay calm)!