Residential Elevators, Public Escalators and Your Children

Elevator and Escalator Safety

Residential elevator owners have to be vigilant of safe elevator practices with the presence of small children. Many small children have become entrapped between folding car doors and elevator landing doors. Unattended toddlers have been known to inadvertently access elevator hoistways by opening doors thinking they lead to a closet or room in the home. Unfortunately, there have been instances where children have been able to open elevator landing doors and enter space between the landing door and car gate, which has had catastrophic results.

If an elevator is improperly installed and/or there is a lack of proper elevator maintenance, and therefore allows children access to areas of danger, it is important to maintain the elevator and provide safety and security for all in the home. In response to these incidents, the latest edition of A17 Code contains enhanced rules to address these situations and the A17 Standards Committee is considering additional revisions such as reduction of the space between car and landing doors or gates, to further eliminate these hazards to young children.

There was also a recent incident in Florida in which a toddler was able to open the bottom landing door of a residential elevator while the car was parked at an upper landing (interlock problem) and walk into the shallow pit of the elevator. The child was in the elevator pit with the lowest landing door closed behind him when the child’s father called the elevator to the bottom landing crushing the child. The State of Florida is in the process of adopting legislation that will require a motion sensor beneath the car to monitor the pit area to prevent this from happening again.

These are terrible events and when they happen, they result in children being severely injured and in the worst cases some have been killed. The two major problems that have been the main causes of these terrible events are:

  1. lack of proper education of potential dangers to children and
  2. elevator equipment failure.

With that said, inspectors and manufacturers are only able to address the latter. Parents and guardians must address the first problem by teaching children how to properly use the equipment or keep them away until they are old enough to understand what it is. Young children should not be allowed to wander anywhere near elevators and especially escalators (as we so often see in malls and department stores) which are constantly running and by their nature are impossible to design so as to totally prevent children’s small body parts from getting caught between an escalator’s moving metal parts.

While utilizing elevators and escalators as a means of traveling with children, it is important to be mindful of the basic etiquette that will provide safety and security. Adults should set a good example of proper travel while using these machines. Adults should teach children they are not toys and how critical it is to be safe while using them.

Elevator Safety Tips

Some basic safety tips that every elevator rider should follow:

  • Always look in before entering an elevator as well as quickly exit so other passengers are able to exit safely.
  • Don’t allow young children to enter the elevator by themselves. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult.
  • Don’t overload the elevator. Excessive weight in the elevator may cause it to malfunction. If the elevator is full, please be patient and wait for the next elevator.
  • Don’t hold the door open with your hand or any other item. This may cause serious bodily injury and/or damage the door and other mechanisms.
  • Don’t prop the door open for any reason, this may cause damage to mechanisms and cause service interruptions.
  • Be careful loading and unloading your belongings to avoid damaging the elevator buttons, walls or doors.
  • During a fire, do not use elevators. Use stairways provided in the building for all emergency situations.

Escalator Safety Tips

Some basic safety tips that every escalator rider should follow:

  • Upon entering an escalator, hold children firmly by the hand, while grasping the handrail with your other hand.
  • Never take baby strollers, wheelchairs, luggage carts, etc. on escalators. Take an elevator instead.
  • Wear shoes at all times and make sure shoelaces are securely tied to prevent them from becoming caught. In addition, remember to secure loose items such as toys and outerwear prior to getting on.
  • Keep children’s fingers away from any spaces between the steps and the skirt of the elevator (the panels located on either side of the escalator steps).
  • Do not lean against or place handbags or packages on the handrail and never sit on the escalator steps or handrails.
  • As you exit, do so quickly to avoid blocking the path of riders behind you. If there is an emergency, push one of the “Stop” buttons located at the top or bottom landings of the escalator near the handrail or floor level.
  • Lift children who are under five years old on and off an escalator. They may not yet possess the motor skills necessary to timely get on and off safely.
  • Most of all, stress to children and teens that they should never play on an escalator!

By abiding by these rules, and teaching them to your children, you can reduce the risk of injury dramatically. If you take your safety serious, others, and especially your children, will follow your example.