Emergency Response: What To Do When An Elevator Malfunctions

You’re stuck in an elevator, and panic starts to set in. According to the Department of Public Safety, there are clear steps to take in such situations. This article will guide you through what to do if an elevator malfunctions—before, during, and after—to ensure your safety.

Understanding Elevator Entrapment and Malfunction

When an elevator stops working, it can trap people inside. This happens for a few reasons and can be risky.

Causes of elevator malfunctions

Elevators often break down due to a mix of overuse, aging, and lack of proper attention. These malfunctions can range from simple inconveniences to serious safety hazards. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Overuse strains the elevator system, leading to frequent breakdowns. High traffic buildings see more wear and tear on elevators.
  2. Mechanical faults occur when parts become worn out or break. Regular use without keeping up with maintenance is a common cause.
  3. Lack of ventilation can cause the machinery to overheat, especially in hydraulic elevators, posing risks of malfunction.
  4. Outdated equipment may not operate efficiently and is more prone to failures. Keeping systems updated reduces the chance of a breakdown.
  5. Improper programming leads to operation delays or unexpected stops due to software errors that control the elevator movements.
  6. Wear and tear from daily use without proper maintenance checks accumulate damage over time, leading to mechanical failure.
  7. Unusual noises like rattling or grinding signal that components might be misaligned or loose parts need lubrication.
  8. Overheating risks increase with continuous use without adequate cooling systems, making overheating a common problem in older models.

Understanding these causes helps in addressing potential issues before they turn into bigger problems ensuring everyone’s safety and minimizing disruptions.

Potential risks and dangers

Getting stuck in an elevator is rare, but it can happen during power outages or because of mechanical issues. Mechanical faults, misuse of equipment, or sudden power losses are common causes.

Your elevators are designed with safety brakes that kick in during emergencies, including when the power goes off. This feature helps prevent the elevator from falling, offering a level of safety for those inside.

Safety first—it’s not just a saying; it’s a necessity when dealing with elevators.

With this knowledge at your fingertips, ensure you have regular checks and maintenance to keep these systems functional. Moving on, let’s focus on what to do before an elevator malfunction occurs.

Before an Elevator Malfunction

Getting ready for an elevator malfunction starts long before any signs of trouble. You need to keep up with checks and know the steps to stay safe, just in case.

Regular maintenance and inspections

Keeping your elevator running smoothly requires effort and attention. Routine upkeep is your best guard against unexpected failures.

  1. Regular maintenance and inspections help spot small problems before they turn into big ones. This means checking all parts of the elevator, such as cables, pulleys, and controls, for wear and tear.
  2. Scheduled maintenance to prevent malfunction involves setting up a calendar for when different parts of the elevator need checking. This keeps everything on track.
  3. Proactive maintenance to minimize elevator issues goes beyond fixing what’s broken. It includes updating systems before they become outdated.
  4. Periodic inspections to avoid breakdowns are essential. These are like health check-ups for your elevator, ensuring it’s fit for operation.
  5. Timely repairs to prevent elevator failure make sure that any damage is fixed right away. Delaying can lead to bigger problems.
  6. Preventive measures to reduce the risk of malfunction might include training staff on what signs of trouble to look out for.
  7. Regular servicing to ensure elevator reliability ensures that professional technicians keep your elevators in top shape.
  8. Planned maintenance to keep elevators running smoothly revolves around having a detailed plan that covers all aspects of the elevator’s operation.
  9. Ongoing checks to prevent common elevator problems mean regularly testing emergency phones, alarms, and lights to make sure they work when needed.
  10. Upkeep and upgrades to improve elevator performance focus on modernizing parts that could improve safety and efficiency.

Each step is key in keeping your building safe and your elevators moving people without issue.

Familiarizing yourself with emergency procedures

After ensuring your elevator system undergoes regular maintenance and inspections, the next critical step is to familiarize yourself with emergency procedures. This know-how can significantly impact response during malfunctions.

  1. Post clear instructions inside the elevator for passengers on what to do if it stops suddenly. Make sure these are easy to read and understand.
  2. Equip each elevator with an up-to-date list of emergency contacts, including numbers for the certified technician team, local fire department, and building management.
  3. Train all building staff on how to respond to an elevator malfunction, emphasizing the importance of remaining calm and the steps to take until help arrives.
  4. Conduct regular drills with both staff and tenants to practice evacuation and rescue procedures in case of an entrapment. This helps everyone stay prepared.
  5. Place clear signs near elevators reminding passengers not to attempt forcing doors open or exiting unsafely by themselves.
  6. Ensure all elevators have a well-maintained and functioning emergency button or intercom system that connects directly to someone who can help immediately.
  7. Regularly review and update your building’s emergency plan as needed, making sure all safety protocols are current and effective.
  8. Share educational materials about elevator safety tips and what not to do if trapped, such as trying to pry open doors or jumping around inside the cabin.
  9. Verify that every elevator complies with local safety regulations and has passed all necessary inspections by trained personnel.

Taking these steps seriously helps protect everyone in your building during an elevator breakdown ensuring a quick, organized response that keeps all passengers safe until professional help arrives.

Keeping emergency contact information accessible

Make sure you have all the emergency contact details handy before an elevator issue happens. This includes knowing how to quickly reach the building maintenance team, and having the correct after-hours number for EH&S emergencies—(650) 725-9999.

You should also be able to tell dispatchers exactly where you are: provide them with your building name, specific location, and details about which elevator is causing trouble.

In times of crisis, knowledge is power.

This info speeds up help when an elevator malfunctions. With these numbers and facts at your fingertips, you’re ready to act fast. Now let’s talk about what to do if an elevator stops working.

During an Elevator Malfunction

If your elevator stops working, keep calm. Use the emergency call button to ask for help.

Staying calm and assessing the situation

Keep your cool and look at what’s happening around you. Use the call button to tell police about the problem. You can dial (312) 355-5555 or 911 if you’re not on the main campus. It helps to know that if an elevator company can’t make it in 30 minutes, University Police will ask for help from local firefighters.

Also, note that emergency lights will turn on to keep things safe if you get stuck in an elevator.

By staying composed and clearly looking at the situation, you ensure everyone’s safety until help arrives. Making quick and wise decisions like using emergency communication devices correctly is crucial.

This approach helps in effectively dealing with the current issue and assists emergency teams in reaching out faster and more efficiently.

Using emergency communication devices

After you stay calm and check your situation, it’s time to use the elevator’s built-in help features. Every elevator has an emergency call button—press it to talk with someone who can assist.

This button links you directly to someone who knows how to help during an elevator breakdown. If that doesn’t work, try shouting or pounding on the door. These actions are your way of asking for outside assistance when the usual systems fail.

Your building might also have an intercom system or an emergency phone. Use these tools if they’re available. They exist so you can speak with people outside about your elevator malfunction and ask for help quickly.

These devices are set up in elevators exactly for situations like this—to make sure you can reach out and get the assistance request noted right away.

Following instructions from emergency responders

You must wait for trained personnel to help you get out of the elevator. It’s wrong to try and open the doors or leave on your own. Always listen to what emergency responders tell you.

This keeps you safe and makes sure help can reach you fast. Next, learn about seeking medical attention if needed.

After an Elevator Malfunction

After an elevator breaks down, make sure to check if anyone needs a doctor. Tell what happened. Then, take steps to stop it from happening again. Explore more tips on keeping elevators safe.

Seeking medical attention if necessary

If someone gets hurt during an elevator malfunction, it’s key to get medical help right away. Answer questions from the emergency team and tell them about any injuries. This helps make sure everyone stays safe.

Also, you should talk to the building manager or facilities contact to let them know what happened.

It might be good to talk with a professional if the experience was scary for you or others. Places like the UIC Counseling Center and Clinical Employee Assistance Services are ready to help students and employees who went through this.

Sharing your story can help you recover from the shock of being stuck in an elevator.

Reporting the incident

After an elevator malfunction, make sure to report the incident right away. First, use the elevator emergency phone to tell University Police about any trapped passengers. Next, Facilities Services will get in touch with an Elevator Technician to fix the problem and talk to EH&S (Environmental Health and Safety) about what happened.

If the elevator service company can’t come within 30 minutes, University Police must call your local fire department for help.

Your quick response ensures everyone’s safety and helps prevent future malfunctions.

This action plan keeps everyone informed and speeds up the resolution process. By doing this, you ensure that expert help is on its way swiftly—minimizing risks and possibly avoiding further complications.

Taking steps to prevent future malfunctions

Elevator malfunctions can be a major problem for you and your building occupants. Regular maintenance and modern technology play key roles in preventing these issues.

  1. Schedule regular maintenance with certified contractors to keep the elevator in top shape.
  2. Update critical components of your elevators as recommended by manufacturers to ensure smooth operation.
  3. Use IoT technology to monitor elevator conditions in real-time, allowing for immediate response to any sign of trouble.
  4. Integrate AI to analyze the data from IoT devices, predicting potential failures before they happen.
  5. Keep up with the latest safety enhancements that can be added to your elevators, ensuring a safer ride for everyone.
  6. Optimize elevator functionality through routine checks and updates, avoiding common problems that lead to malfunctions.
  7. Implement lift entrapments prevention strategies by educating your staff on how to respond if an elevator does stop working.
  8. Modernize elevators with the latest technologies like IoT and AI for better performance and fewer malfunctions.
  9. Ensure all maintenance work is done by certified technicians who know exactly how to care for your specific elevator model.
  10. Stay informed about new preventative measures and maintenance protocols that become available, incorporating them into your building’s routine care plan.


AuditMate steps in as your go-to for managing elevator malfunctions effectively. This smart software keeps track of maintenance schedules and contracts, making sure everything is up to date.

It’s like having an expert by your side, ensuring all safety protocols are followed to the letter. With AuditMate, you get peace of mind knowing that help is just a click away.

Ready to make elevator troubles a thing of the past? Contact AuditMate today and see how easy it can be to keep things running smoothly.


1. What should I do first if the elevator stops working?

Stay calm, and press the alarm button to alert someone that you need help.

2. Is it safe to try and open the elevator doors myself?

No, trying to open the doors yourself can be dangerous; wait for professionals to assist you.

3. Who should I call for help when stuck in an elevator?

Use the emergency phone or button in the elevator to call for immediate assistance.

4. Can I use my cell phone to call for help inside an elevator?

Yes, if your cell phone has a signal, you can use it to call 911 or building security.

5. How long might I have to wait for help if I’m stuck in an elevator?

The time can vary, but rescue teams work quickly and efficiently to get you out safely as soon as possible.


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