Stuck in an Elevator? Here’s What to Do (and Not Do)

Elevator Entrapment Tips

Statistically speaking, when it comes to elevator entrapments:

  •  If an installed lift experiences an average of 0.4 mantraps per year, the probability of entrapment during any single trip is then 0.4/400,000 = 0,01% annually. If you travel 1600 times up and down to your office in a year, your chance of getting trapped in an elevator is thus 0.16%. During a 40 years’ working career, this means roughly a 6% probability of getting into a mantrap in an office elevator. If you happen to live in a high-rise apartment building and use the apartment elevators, your chance of getting trapped may rise to about 12% during 40 years of lift usage. — Elevating Studio
  • There are approximately 900,000 elevators in the United States and the odds of getting stuck in an elevator are 1 in every 100,000 elevator ride. — Find Any Answer

While the chances seem slim and vertical transportation is technically advanced to err on the side of safety and stop for precautionary measures, the amount of elevator trips is large- 18 billion trips in the U.S. annually, in fact. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, even recently:

These are a handful of the many news stories you will find if you go looking for them. 

Find out how to improve safety and reduce costs at your property

Our best-in-class emergency phone + monitoring solutions provide peace of mind and are backed by decades of expertise

Learn More

How your property should handle elevator entrapment

BOMA Chicago lists effective response measures in the event of an elevator entrapment. The following actions should be taken by the person receiving the call:

  •  Identify the stopped elevator cab number and the location of the entrapment. 
  •  Immediately call the elevator service company and initiate building procedures for elevator entrapments. 
  • Obtain the names of the entrapped person(s) and company information. 
  • If able to (and per elevator company instruction), perform trouble-shooting actions such as remotely calling the cab to another floor.

The organization also lists best practices and considerations for handling the incident (once the above information is obtained):

  • Talk to the entrapped persons throughout the entrapment (this can alleviate any anxiety), help keep them calm, and assure them that help is on the way. See a video example of a real call example of this from Kings III:

  • Provide updates and information, such as elevator company estimated time for arrival. 
  • Ask if you can call their supervisor/family member/etc. and inform them of the situation (also shown in the video above).
  • If an entrapped person begins to experience any medical issue (i.e. shortness of breath), immediately call 911.
  • If certified to do so, give them pre-arrival medical instructions in the event that they need them. See our blog: What is an Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification?
  • Dispatch Engineering and/or Security to the location of entrapped cab. Note that first responders can also communicate with entrapped persons.
  • Entrapped persons should never attempt to pry open doors and should only exit the cab if the cab is level and/or if Security, Engineering, or the Elevator Technician gives them the “OK” to do so.
  • Ideally, Security should meet with all entrapped persons after exiting the cab. After the conclusion and meeting with the elevator service company, identify the root cause of the entrapment. Be sure that you’re being made aware of when an elevator entrapment occurs at your property. In a recent commercial real estate focus group with industry leaders at the BOMA international conference, we found attendees considered it a best practice to proactively follow up with every person trapped in an elevator. However, many had trouble doing so- a common complaint was being unaware of every entrapment that occurred on-site.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that your entrapped rider’s elevator phobia will wait in the lobby. If they start to feel anxiety when entering an elevator, share these tips (ahead of time, or posted in the elevator):

How the passenger should handle elevator entrapment

  • Make the Door Open/Close button your new best friend. Try this for at least five seconds. You would be surprised that this is what starts the elevator on its way. In fact, it’s not unusual to step into an elevator and forget to push the button for your desired floor — we’re living in an age when we can only handle so much information, and our attention spans aren’t what they used to be.
  • Don’t get mechanical. Chances are unless you are certified in elevator engineering, you’re not going to successfully fix what’s broken. In fact, being a hero could get you injured or worse. Do this instead: look for the elevator phone. It’s there (it’s the law!), usually located on the same panel as the buttons. 
    • If the elevator you’re in has a Kings III Emergency Communications System, your phone will connect you to a highly trained and certified emergency communications specialist who will help you take the next steps toward freedom. Kings III operators are on the job 24/7/365. Hopefully, your elevator’s choice of emergency communications is scheduled the same way.
  • Make yourself heard. It may not be the most technical advice, but yelling for help is a time-honored tradition. Draw attention to yourself. If there is an alarm button on the panel, push it generously, and don’t be shy. Most people pay attention to loud noises coming from an elevator shaft, at least enough to notify the authorities.
  • Chill. Easier said than done, right?  But do it anyway: try to remain calm. Panic will not open the elevator doors any faster, and it could do a number on your health, such as shortness of breath or worse. What to do: control your breath or at least take deep breaths, close your eyes if you can, and try to be a zen mentor to anyone with you in the elevator. Remember that help is on the way. 

Utilizing and disseminating these tips can make all the difference in a less-than-ideal situation. If you haven’t already, check out the benefits to having a Kings III Emergency Communications System installed in your elevator. Our specialists are on call to help any tenant or visitor who may be stuck in that very unlikely situation. 

Get more details about our all-inclusive solution here.

The Tenant Experience: Avoid These 4 Common Mistakes


How to Handle After-Hours Emergencies

Not all on-site emergencies take place during regular working hours, but that doesn't make them any less important to address. Here's how property managers can effectively respond to property emergencies occurring after-hours without an unrealistic, burdensome workload.

The 5 Most Common Reasons Smartphones Fail at Property Safety

If you rely on tenants' smartphone use as an on-site emergency response, you're opening up some liability issues when it comes to property safety. Here's what you need to know.

Prepare an Emergency Plan for Your Fitness Center

Because your fitness center could be one of the more popular amenities on your property, it certainly brings a need for a plan to manage risks that can occur. If you haven’t already, it’s important to establish life safety and emergency response practices specifically designated for the area. Here are some of the essentials.

Elevator Communications and Data Connection Requirements: Properly Evaluating Security Risk, Reliability and Encumbrances

There’s a lot to consider when thinking about the new elevator emergency communication code requirements. Deciding to use your own network creates a long checklist and more work for you. Granting a third party vendor access to your network is an option but has risks. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision.

Check Your Property Crime Stats for 2021

As part of Building Safety Month, we’re taking a look at some fundamental property crime statistics that all property managers should know, adding in some of our own crime prevention and crime response tips.

The Downfalls of Using a Deactivated Cell Phone for Your Emergency Pool Phone

We have found as an emergency pool phone provider that there are multifamily communities unaware that their current pool phone service is actually using a deactivated cell phone. Depending on the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), this often does not pass inspection for several reasons. This puts both property managers and their tenants at risk. Learn why.  

Kings III Expands Emergency Monitoring Benefit via FirstNet Network: What You Should Know

Kings III equipment has been approved for the use of FirstNet, built by AT&T, which is a long-term evolution (LTE) network that gives first priority to first responders and other public safety personnel. Learn more here.

Kings III Emergency Communications’ M90 Phone is Now FirstNet Ready®

After a rigorous review process, Kings III’s emergency phone host control panel, the M90, is now FirstNet Ready™ and ready for use on FirstNet®, a public safety network. Learn items of note.

Recent Winter Storms Highlight Need to Plan for All Contingencies in an Emergency

See how Kings III's emergency dispatch center was able to run as-usual during the mass Texas power outages and how we're prepared to do so in any outage.

Kings III makes it easy as a single point-of-contact for all your emergency response needs. With expertise in line connectivity, compliance codes, equipment maintenance, and safety protocol, we offer the total package.