NYC Buildings Commissioner Spreads Escalator Safety Message

Robert LiMandri on Dec. 3 started the Department of Buildings' ninth annual Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week by visiting a Brooklyn public school to teach children in first, second, and third grades how to safely ride elevators and escalators and what to do in an emergency.

New York City Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri visited a Brooklyn public school Dec. 3 to kick off his department's ninth annual Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week. Each year, the department’s Elevators Unit personnel visits school citywide and teach first, second, and third graders -– more than 1,500 this year alone --- how to be safe while riding any of the 60,000 elevators and escalators in the city.

"Knowledge is the key to preventing future accidents, and that's why this program is so important," LiMandri said. "As a New Yorker, riding elevators and escalators are a part of life, and our goal is to make sure the youngest New Yorkers understand how to protect themselves at all times. Each year, inspectors with our Elevators Unit travel across the city to teach students these simple, easy-to-remember tips and encourage them to share the tips with their families. These safety tips can save lives."

Almost a year ago, on Dec. 14, 2011, Suzanne Hart, 41, died in an elevator accident at a Manhattan office building. Hart was entering the elevator when it accelerated upward with its doors open and trapped her between the elevator door saddle and the hoist way walls. New York City authorities responded with their largest-ever safety sweep of elevators and suspended the license of a firm whose employees had worked on the elevator in which Hart died.

Included in the school presentations are instructions to follow the department's elevator safety slogan, "Ring, Relax, Wait," in an emergency. The children learn they should first ring the elevator's safety bell and then wait for help to arrive, rather than trying to pry open the doors and get out of the elevator, and these tips are explained to them:

  • Step on and off elevators/escalators carefully.
  • Make sure elevators are level with the floor before exiting
  • Always face forward when riding on escalators and hold onto the handrails.
  • Never touch the sides below the escalator's handrails.
  • Keep items such as loose clothing, ties, scarves and shoelaces clear of closing elevator doors and the spaces between escalator steps.
  • Avoid jumping in elevators; it can cause them to be uneven with the floor and/or stall.
  • Don't use any part of your body to hold the elevator doors open.
  • Never lean on the elevator doors or attempt to pry them open.

At the end of the class, students receive a certificate of competition, a "Junior Inspector" badge, an educational coloring book, and the department’s Elevator/Escalator Safety Flyer, which is printed in English and Spanish. The week is organized by the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides some of the materials used in the school presentations.

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