Stuck in an elevator


What should you do if you’re stuck in an elevator? Should you stay put or try to get out? Let’s look at a few scenarios and see what’s best.


Scenario One: Are You Really Stuck?

You are running late and haven’t had that joyous first cup of coffee.  You are also on the phone with your significant other, planning supper. You arrive in the elevator lobby and “ding” the doors open like magic. You enter and continue to talk for another 45 seconds.  Suddenly, you realize the door is not opening. You think, “oh no, I’m stuck, what the heck am I’m going to do?” Your heart starts racing.

You just happen to glance up and you see you are still on the 1st floor. Well, that’s odd, the car must have not moved. Then you realize in your hurry and in your inattentiveness, you neglected to push the call button for your floor. How silly, you were never stuck at all; just distracted. I have personally witnessed this on more than one occasion.



Scenario Two: You Really Are Stuck

This time you’re not running late.  You have that hot cappuccino in hand and all is well with your world. You stroll into the elevator lobby and press the call button. The car arrives, “ding,” going up, you enter and set your floor call. The car starts and moves an unknown distance then stops. You know something didn’t feel right about that stop; you’ve ridden this thing 100’s of times. In this scenario, you really are stuck in an elevator. What do you do?


Let’s talk about what not to do. First, do not panic! You’re safe, you’re in a steel box, and I promise the zombies can’t get to you. The car is not going to fall, you won’t run out of oxygen; you are perfectly safe. Do not try and pry the door open and extract yourself. This is a very bad idea and sadly the source of many a catastrophe.  First, you shouldn’t even be able to open the door unless you are within a foot of a landing. Being inside the car, you cannot know its position in the hoistway. If you were to happen to be able to pry the door open and the car was to start moving you could be crushed, smashed, smooshed or any other number of unpleasant things. So, you need to stay calm and stay put!


So, what should you do if you really are stuck in an elevator? Remain calm, push the telephone button first and try and talk with the persons that ANSWERS the elevator emergency phone. This phone is required to be ANSWERED 24 hours a day by persons that can provide aid or get in contact with some that can provide you aid.  MOST LIKELY, A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL WILL BE THERE QUITE SOON.  This is the safest and likely the quickest way for you to get out of this stalled elevator.


However, remember you probably have your cell phone handy. So if all else fails, try your mobile device. YOU CAN CALL 911 which will direct you to the nearest emergency responder.  You can also google search “closest fire department” making sure your location setting is on. The fire department has professionals TRAINED in evacuating trapped passengers.


Remember, stay calm, stay put, and above all, stay safe!


Authored by Keith Gaut – Field Supervisor and Safety Manager for Bagby Elevator Company 


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