Movies often feature action sequences in which an elevator suddenly drops in a freefall following a cable break, and hurtles down the shaft at high speed. Realistic they may be, but how real is the possibility of such an incident ever happening to you?
Cinematic thrills apart, elevators and escalators in real life are required to comply with regulatory standards, and are therefore, designed with several safety features that keep passengers safe. Elevator and escalator safety involves a joint effort between manufacturers, building owners, maintenance service providers and equipment users. Safety is assured as long as best practice is maintained in the design and maintenance of the equipment, and users are safety conscious.
In this article, KONE Elevators debunks a few urban legends about elevators.
Myth #1: Elevators hang by a single cable that could break and cause a freefall.
An elevator is supported by multiple steel cables with each cable strong enough to support a fully loaded car. While a snapped cable is quite an unusual occurrence, even in the extremely improbable event of all cables breaking, an elevator is equipped with safety features such as an overspeed governor to slow down the elevator and bring it to a halt. Don’t worry about those dramatic scenes where sparks fly off the guide rails as the elevator hurtles down – they’re just for cinematic effect!
Myth #2: An overcrowded elevator will fall.
As you may have experienced yourself, an overloaded car will normally refuse to move unless people get off to reduce the weight. Typically, the doors will remain open and a buzzer may alert the occupants about the overloading. Modern elevators usually prevent such a situation by using technology to effectively distribute riders among the available elevators, thereby reducing the chances of overcrowding.
Myth #3: People in a stuck elevator are at risk of running out of oxygen.
Elevator cars are well ventilated with regulations mandating ventilation openings – at least two percent of the floor area of an elevator should be made up of vents that let air move freely in and out. Modern buildings, especially in the hospitality and corporate sectors, are likely to have air conditioned elevators for a better passenger experience.
Myth #4: You can escape from an elevator car into the shaft through the safety hatch.
While action movie characters may make it look so easy, avoid the temptation to use the safety hatch to get out of a stuck elevator. It’s true that safety hatches or trap doors are used for rescue by well-trained personnel, but passengers should never attempt to use them as escape routes. Most emergency escape hatches are designed to be opened from the outside by rescue professionals. In the rare event you do find yourself trapped in an elevator, just stay put, avoid panic and wait for the rescue team. Very importantly, do not attempt to prise open the elevator’s doors – you don’t know if the car is in the door zone. Instead, you could be placing everyone in the elevator car in danger.
Myth #5: Press the call button multiple times to make the elevator arrive faster.
The elevator heard you the first time. Keeping your finger on the call button or pressing it repeatedly will not speed up the elevator’s journey to your floor. When you push the button the first time, the elevator’s movement is activated and the software determines its route. Regardless of the sophistication of the call system, the elevator will still generate action on the first push of the button. Repeatedly pressing the call button does not serve any purpose.
KONE Elevators is committed to safety, and works closely with their customers to ensure a comfortable experience and safe transport for users.
Read more about elevator and escalator safety in our safety pages.