How to escape from a stuck lift (elevator)

Elevators, more commonly known as lifts in the UK, are one of the most common ways of travelling, and are also one of the safest. The most common accidents associated with lifts result in bumps, bruises, and caught fingers. However, it is also possible to become trapped in a lift, and for many this is the stuff of nightmares. If you are planning for a future escape, or are trapped in a lift right now, these steps will help you to survive the experience.

Stay Calm. Lifts are one of the safest ways to travel, and the British Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA) report that UK lifts are some of the most reliable in the world. If a lift should become stranded between floors, numerous safety devices prevent it from plummeting to the floor or running out of air. Therefore, the best thing that you can do is to take a deep breath and keep calm. If necessary, also try to calm down any frantic fellow passengers.

Try to get help. The most obvious way of doing this is by using the alarm button, which will connect you to somebody on the outside. If the alarm does not produce an immediate response, keep trying: it may take several minutes to alert someone to your predicament. After this, check whether your mobile phone has any signal. If it does, call 999 and ask for the fire brigade. If both the alarm and the mobile fail to work, try banging on the doors and shouting. The chances are that those stranded on the outside are as frustrated as those trapped on the inside, and there will be plenty of people around to hear your call for help.

Be prepared to wait. Even if those on the outside are alerted to the situation, it may still take several hours for the fire brigade to arrive and resolve the problem. This becomes the time to hunker down and keep yourself and your fellow captives entertained. Word games and story telling are good ways to pass the time. It has been known for people to survive up to four days trapped inside a lift, so it's a good idea to always make sure that you have got a bottle of water and some snacks with you when you travel in an elevator just in case the worst should happen. Remember that teamwork is the key to success in these situations, so try to work together to keep everyone calm and comfortable.

Break out. If it has been 24 or more hours and you are sure that help is not around the corner, consider finding another way out. This must always be a last resort, as the exterior of an elevator contains multiple hazards. The first way to attempt to escape is through the doors. If you prise them open, you may find that the top or bottom of the lift is within reach of a floor. Be very careful if you try to clamber out, as lifts may suddenly start to move again, with inevitably grizzly consequences. Lifts also have a service hatch in their ceilings. It is possible to climb out of one of these and gain access to the roof of the lift. From here, you can shout for help. There is little point trying to climb the wires as these are heavily lubricated, so your best chance of survival is to stay inside the elevator whenever possible.


Remember that the outside of lifts contain multiple hazards. The majority of elevator fatalities are as a result of people trying to climb out of a lift when it is stuck between floors, or by falling from the roof of a lift that they have climbed out of. Keeping calm and staying where you are is always the best course of action.

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About the Author

Rachel Stride has worked as a ghostwriter since 2009, which has included researching and writing on a plethora of weird and wonderful subjects. Her academic background is in Medieval language and literature.