If your heart is racing and your palms are sweaty, you can’t think clearly. If you’re not alone, don’t forget that panic is contagious. Just remember to breathe and relax.
It may sound silly and obvious, but press the “door open” button. Don’t laugh, oftentimes you’re stuck only because the elevator’s doors didn’t open automatically.
No, don’t light “that” up. You can’t remedy what you can’t see. Being the Boy Scout that we know you are, you should be prepared and have a light source of some sort — a pocket flashlight, or even a charged-up cell, just something more than ultra-white teeth.
Hit the call button or pick up the emergency phone and see what happens. This should notify the maintenance crew and help will soon be on its way. And don’t be afraid to ring the alarm button.
If escape is not a matter of life or death, get to know your fellow passengers and wait it out. Help is on the way to rescue you.
If the buttons are FUBAR, scream and yell, or call 911. The sooner you get word to “the outside,” the sooner someone can help. Contrary to the movies, there are usually people around to hear your pleas.
None of the aforementioned works? It’s a SHTF scenario and no one is coming to help? Push the stop button, try to pop the hatch in the ceiling and crawl on top of the elevator cab. From there you can see how close you are to the floor above. Every set of outer doors has a latch on the inside to help them open. Fair warning, though: It is NEVER advised to leave an elevator car that is stuck. We can’t stress enough that exiting the elevator car is very dangerous, as the majority of elevator deaths occur outside the car. The risk of getting electrocuted and death is high.
Although there is no awe-inspiring name for the fear of elevators, you can bet that for some people stepping into an elevator triggers a combination of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, the yips and a fear of hearing a pan flute cover of “Enter Sandman.” Racing thoughts of cables snapping and you plummeting to your death in a wood-paneled Muzak machine fill your head. Don’t fret, our fearsome brethren. Unless you’re inside a Michael Bay production, there’s about as much chance of that happening as Arnold subbing in for Obama.
You can take comfort in knowing that, believe it or not, elevators are designed to avoid falling. In fact the only time there’s been complete cable failure in an elevator was in the 1940’s when a plane crashed into the Empire State Building. So unless you see a giant ape scaling the side of your building, you’re good to go.
Just because you won’t die of sudden deceleration syndrome doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself stopped between floors, dangling over the precipice. If you do find yourself in this less-than-comforting situation, there are a few things you can do to get out of it.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of BALLISTIC™ magazine. Print Subscriptions are available here.
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