What to Do if You Get Stuck in an Elevator

Commerical lifts

No one likes the idea of being stuck in an elevator; small, cramped space, who knows how many people, for some reason the air conditioning always goes out to. It’s just not a fun time. I remember one time in middle school there was about 15 of us kids and one teacher crammed into a commercial elevator on a field trip and it got stuck. The boys thought it would be a great idea to jump up and down and scare the girls and of course, no one was listening to the teacher. I don’t remember exactly what happened but it was terrifying. I just kept envisioning the elevator cables snapping and us plunging downwards because of these ridiculous, jumping boys. Needless to say, that didn’t happen and we all got out safe and sound but we were trapped for a good 40 minutes or so. I remember hearing the adults talking about something to do with the elevator safety company and elevator repair, so there definitely had been a problem with the elevator to begin with. So, that brings us to this- what to do if you do find yourself stuck in an elevator:

  1. Don’t Panic
    This was the first mistake of teacher, that fateful day. She panicked. Which made us panic. If you are in this situation, whether you are with other people or not: remain calm. You will not be able to think clearly if you are in a panicked state. An elevator safety company recommended leaning back against the wall or even sitting down and taking a few deep breaths before going into any kind of plan of action.

  2. Find Light
    Often times, the lights will go out when an elevator gets stuck so if there is no emergency lighting, trying to find a light source. Most people will have their cell phones which offer a decent flash light function. This is sufficient. If there are not a lot of people in the elevator, you can even place the phone on the floor, flash light side up and it will illuminate most of the elevator so that you can see properly.

  3. No Hatches
    Modern elevators don’t have hatches in the ceilings anymore but even if you are in an old elevator, do you try and escape through the hatch. This is very dangerous and not a good plan at all. Even if you are beginning to panic (which is against rule number one, anyway) do not imagine that you are in some sort of movie where you can climb out of the top the elevator.

  4. Emergency Button
    Most elevators have an emergency call button located inside the elevator. If you don’t see it immediately, it may be located inside a panel. If this is not available, then move on to the next step.

  5. Cell Phone
    If you have a cell phone with you, check to see if you have reception or wi-fi. If so you can dial 911 and let them know what building you are in and that you are stuck in an elevator. Or, if you are familiar with the people in the building, and it’s during business hours, you could call one of them or use social media to contact someone who is in the building and they may be able to call the elevator safety company to come out and save you. If you do not have a signal and it is during business hours, take off your shoe and use it to bang on the elevator wall and shout for help. Someone will be bound to hear you. Many times the elevator company will leave their phone number somewhere inside the elevator so you could try calling that number as well.

  6. After Business Hours
    If there is no one else in the building and you do not have a cell phone connection, you may have to resign yourself that you could be spending the night in the elevator. Once people start coming in to work the next day, you can resume your banging and shouting and someone will call the elevator safety company to get you out. Residential lifts are easier because someone is there all the time and should hear your banging and shouting if nothing else.

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