Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 2:43am
The annual return of students to the UW campus swells the City's population and dramatically increases the persons per square foot. It is expected that there will be an increase in emergency calls as a result.
Unfortunately, this increase has also included the interior of elevators. Some people consider it a challenge to see how many people they can squeeze inside your average passenger elevator. It's a trend that the Department's Elevator Inspection Unit is seeing with an alarming frequency.
In the space of a single night, firefighters and paramedics were called to three separate downtown addresses for removal of victims from stalled elevators.
In two of the incidents, responders removed 20+ people from each elevator. In the third, the elevator was empty when firefighters arrived, but the elevator was not working properly and there was significant damage to the phone emergency panel.
It is comforting to know that the American Society Of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Elevator Safety Code requires the brakes for traction elevators to be capable of holding 125% of the rated load. But, beyond that there is no guarantee of safety.
An overloaded elevator represents a unique hazard of brake slippage. Persons being evacuated from an overloaded elevator should be handled with care, in that no passenger or rescuer should stand partially in the elevator entranceway. The result can be crushing injuries - as in the case of a fatality at Ohio State University in 2006 - or possibly dismemberment.
Aside from the obvious safety measure of not overloading elevators, here are some basic safety tips:
•Watch what you're doing when entering and exiting a car because, particularly with older elevators, the cab might not be level with the landing.
•Don't try to stop an elevator's doors from closing with your arm, hand or leg. Use the 'door open' button or the hall buttons, which have been provided for this purpose.
•Check the capacity of the elevator, which can be found posted inside the elevator.
•If you find yourself stuck in an elevator, don't panic, and don't try to force your way out. You're safest in the car. More accidents happen when people try to self-evacuate from a stalled elevator that's not at the landing. Use the emergency phone, ring the alarm and wait for help.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947