5 steps to take if your elevator stops

5 steps to take if your elevator stops working

While getting stuck inside an elevator rarely happens, we’ve put together some tips on what to do if the situation occurs. Elevators can stop, for example, when there are power outages, when passengers misuse equipment or when the elevator has a fault.

If the elevator has stopped, it is important to follow these steps:

  1. Remain calm and do not attempt to leave the cab without first being cleared to do so by a certified technician or the Fire Department.

  2. To request assistance, use the elevator’s emergency button, intercom or phone.

  3. Keep your distance from the door at all times and do not try to force the doors open.

  4. Remember that the elevator has air circulation openings, so there will be no limit on available air inside the cab.

  5. Wait for qualified assistance to arrive. Only a qualified technician or the Fire Department should perform a rescue, if one is deemed necessary.

Do not attempt to rescue passengers in any way!

If you are standing outside of the elevator and realize that it has stopped operating, do not attempt to rescue the trapped passengers! This mentality, even if driven by good intentions, can lead to serious accidents.

In this situation, it is best for a “trapped” passenger to remain within the cab until trained personnel can remove them. Door restriction devices prevent the passenger from opening the car doors. Therefore, Otis recommends the following procedure in the event a passenger becomes trapped in an elevator:

  1. Communicate with the passenger(s), reassure them that they are safe as long as they do not panic or try to open the doors, and that there is plenty of air in the car. 

  2. Stay in communication with them until they are rescued. Communication can be by either the standard communication system within the cab or by communicating verbally through the doors.

  3. Ask the passenger(s) to push the door open button, as sometimes the elevator is at floor level and the door will open.

  4. Ask the passenger(s) to make sure that the red emergency stop switch is in the “Run” position.

  5. Place a service call to your elevator company and inform the customer service representative that people are trapped in the elevator. Entrapments receive priority service. (Remember to give your customer service representative a phone number if they need to contact the building.)

  6. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. There have been instances where considerable damage was done to an elevator by non-elevator personnel attempting to remove a passenger from an elevator when the situation was not an emergency. 

National elevator codes (ASME/ANSI A17.1 and CAN/CSA-B44) require that hoistway doors be equipped with an “emergency unlocking device,” which can be operated with a special key. That key will open the hoistway (external) doors and permit the removal of trapped passengers. This key should only be used by trained individuals. 

As you can see, elevator equipment has many built-in safety features that reduce the risk of personal injury and property damage in the event of malfunctions. However, building staff still plays a vital role in directing occupants to safety, monitoring equipment, and operating controls that initiate emergency features. 

Elevator stops are usually annoying and inconvenient. While elevators are extremely safe and reliable, sudden stops are always a possibility. We want to make it clear that elevator stops don’t represent any kind of risk for users and owners. Safety concerns are, and have always been, one of the pillars of Otis’ operation. We want to ensure that every single elevator ride is safe, effective, smooth and seamless.

If you want to be prepared for your next elevator safety test, we invite you to download our latest eBook: Elevator Safety Test Guide.