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in: Featured, Outdoor/Survival, Skills, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

How to Survive Inside a Plummeting Elevator

How to Survive inside a Plummeting Elevator illustration.

Falling to your death in a steel box seems like the sort of risk you would want to avoid, especially when the alternative is merely the inconvenience of walking up a few flights of stairs. Luckily, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission report that elevator accidents are exceedingly rare, and more likely to happen to elevator repair professionals than people merely cruising between floors. Still, the notion of an elevator cable snapping and sending you on a deranged amusement ride, no matter how improbable, is scary enough to warrant memorizing a few survival tips.

  1. If there’s a handrail, use it to hold yourself against the wall, keeping your knees bent to help absorb the impact.
  2. If there’s no handrail, lie on the floor of the elevator on your back, protecting your head and face with your arms. Spreading your body out on the ground will help minimize the overall impact force on any one part of your body.
  3. Once the elevator has stopped, use the emergency call button or bang on the door and shout to try to contact help.
  4. If you’re stuck, look for a thin piece of metal to pry open the door and escape. Don’t try to climb out the top of the elevator, where electrical equipment puts you at risk of getting electrocuted.

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Illustration by Ted Slampyak 

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