General, Research, Technology

How dangerous are the elevators and what to do if it stops?

Smartly speaking, the established inIn apartment buildings, lifts are hoisting machines for moving goods and passengers between floors. The first semblance of an elevator was invented during the time of the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes and since then it has undergone many changes. Elevators have become not only more powerful, but also safer, because in the past they often became the cause of human death. The reliability of modern elevators is provided by dozens of electronic and mechanical devices, but sometimes there are still reports of accidents in the news. But how often do these terrible incidents happen and for what reasons? Believe me, during the entire existence of these mechanisms, detailed statistics have been collected that help fully answer these questions.

It would seem, what could be dangerous about a ride in an elevator?


  • 1 When was the first elevator created?
  • 2 Types of elevators
  • 3 Elevator safety
  • 4 Elevator accidents
    • 4.1 Broken elevator cable
    • 4.2 What if the elevator has stopped?
    • 4.3 What to do if the elevator falls?
  • 5 Dangerous elevator doors

When was the first elevator created?

According to historical documents, the first elevatorin the world was built in 236 BC by the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes. Then some kind of elevators were created in Ancient Egypt, more modern France and even in the Russian Empire. In 1854, the American inventor Elisha Otis introduced the world to one of the main details of modern elevators - catchers, thanks to which mankind was able to build skyscrapers. In front of the public, the inventor cut off the elevator ropes and the passenger cabin remained motionless. We'll talk about how this is possible a little later. In the meantime, let's dwell on the fact that the first electric passenger elevator was created in 1880 by Siemens & Halske. It climbed to a height of 22 meters in an impressive 11 seconds. The first skyscrapers with elevators appeared in 1889.

The first elevators looked something like this

Elevator types

Elevators are different in purpose anddesigns, but basically they are divided into hydraulic and electrical. Hydraulic elevators appeared en masse before electric ones and move goods and passengers on platforms that are "pushed" by hydraulic pipes. In the homes of most of us, they are practically not used, therefore, within the framework of this material, they are not of particular interest. But I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with the principle of their work by watching the video authored by - it turned out briefly, but very detailed and interesting.

Hydraulic lifts look something like this. I note that I described the operation of elevators in general terms - better watch our videos

The most popular elevators are nowwith an electric drive. The passenger cabin is supported by oil-soaked steel ropes. Typically, the number of ropes is 3 to 8, and the oil impregnation protects them from rust and eliminates squeaking. The cable moves up and down due to the power plant located in the upper part of the elevator shaft with a powerful electric motor. To make it easier for the motor to work, there is a weight on the opposite ends of the cables, designed to balance the elevator car. Typically, this counterweight equals the total weight of the empty cab and half of the payload. Most elevators in apartment buildings can lift between 350 and 500 kilograms. also has an excellent video about the operation of the electric elevator. After reading this article, be sure to check it out, it's really interesting!

Elevator safety

Passenger safety is ensured byapproximately 30 electrical and 5 mechanical devices. So-called catchers bear the greatest responsibility for people's lives. When the elevator falls due to a break in the cables, the speed limiter begins to brake the car by increasing the friction of the brake pads, and the catchers located on top of the car are tightly pressed against the walls of the shaft. Also, at the very bottom of the shaft, there are so-called buffers, which soften the impact in the event of an elevator falling down. Cases where speed limiters and safety devices do not stop the cab during a fall are very rare, but they did happen and became the cause of death of a huge number of people.

It is believed that when the elevator falls, you needjump - it is believed that this can save a person's life. This theory was tested in Episode 17 of Season 1 of MythBusters. If you have nothing to do in your spare time, watching this episode is a great solution. Here is the link.

Elevator accidents

Typically elevator accidentsoccur for two reasons. The first is the breaking of the cables and the fall of the cabin with passengers to the bottom of the mine from a great height. The second type of accidents occurs when passengers are pinched by the doors of an elevator and it starts to move. I think it's not even worth saying that both options are terrible. In Russia, the National Elevator Union and the National Union of Liability Insurers (NCCO) are involved in recording accidents in elevators. In 2016, it was announced that "over the past 3 years, more than 100 accidents have occurred in Russia." About 100 people were injured in them, and 40 passengers were completely killed.

It looks like an elevator shaft

Broken cable in the elevator

Many people are afraid that when the elevator is in motionthe cables holding the cab will break and fall down. In fact, such cases are very rare. After all, we have already discussed that the mechanisms ensuring the reliability of elevators were invented hundreds of years ago and already then surprised with their efficiency. If such terrible accidents happen, then only with elevators that have not been repaired for a long time. There are several ways to identify a potentially dangerous elevator.

Signs of a faulty elevator:

  • squeaks and other extraneous sounds while driving;
  • swing or vibration of the elevator car;
  • different speed of the cab;
  • stopping inaccuracy when there is a difference of more than 35 millimeters between the car or the floor.

See also: The space elevator between the Earth and the Moon can become a reality

What if the elevator has stopped?

Typically, when a malfunction occurs,the elevator simply stops. In this case, passengers should never try to get out, because this greatly increases the risk of falling into the mine. And no panic, because you need to act calmly. The first step is to try to contact the dispatcher by pressing the button with the bell or handset icon. If the buttons do not work, you need to call the dispatcher or the emergency service from your mobile phone using the numbers usually listed in the cockpit. If there are no plates with numbers, you need to call neighbors or relatives so that they call rescuers. It so happens that you don't have your phone with you - then you just need to loudly call for help.

The dispatcher call button looks something like this

Perhaps help will not come immediately, because the rescuersit takes time to get home. In order to wait out the time without problems, it is recommended to take off your outerwear and sit on the floor. And once again - no need to panic, because the elevator could stop not because of a malfunction, but for completely different reasons.

Reasons for stopping the elevator:

  • malfunction, but this is not necessary;
  • power outages in the building;
  • too much weight for the lift;
  • underweight, usually up to 20 kilograms - in some elevators, children cannot climb and transfer bags unaccompanied;
  • excessive activity in the elevator, because it is impossible to jump and swing the car in it.

What to do if the elevator falls?

Unfortunately, sometimes it happens that the elevatorreally falls. This may be evidenced by the fact that the booth began to move downward faster than usual. In this case, you also cannot panic - the first step is to click on the "stop" button. You also need to take a safe position: squat down and rest your hands on the floor, or press your back against the wall of the cabin. If there is a handrail, you need to grip it firmly. If the elevator doesn't fall very quickly, nothing bad will happen. When the booth reaches the bottom of the mine, it is important to call the dispatcher or emergency services.

No matter what happens in the elevator, don't panic

Dangerous elevator doors

Statistics show that mostfatalities in an elevator are not caused by steel cables breaking. Most often, the passengers themselves become the culprits of accidents, and this is especially true for children and adolescents. It is important for every person to understand that an elevator is not a toy, but a complex mechanism that must be handled with extreme care.

Here are some safety rules for an elevator:

  • you cannot deliberately shake the booth;
  • there should be no more people in the elevator than a particular model can withstand (usually the permissible number of passengers is indicated inside the cabin);
  • before entering the elevator, make sure that the car is level with the floor;
  • you only need to press the floor button when all the passengers have entered;
  • if there is no lighting in the elevator or wires stick out from the walls, it is better to use the stairs.

Because people don't follow the rulessafety, truly terrible tragedies occur. For example, in December 2011, a 48-year-old woman tried to get out of an elevator stuck between the second and third floors on her own. She had not yet managed to get out completely, when suddenly the elevator began to move. I will not tell what happened next - judging by the descriptions on the Internet, the situation was terrible.

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In addition to all of the above, do notforget that you cannot enter the elevator together with suspicious people. In 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, there was an additional risk of contracting the disease. In general, you can use the elevators, but you should never forget about the safety rules. The fear of riding in an elevator, by the way, is called elevatophobia.