New York City Buildings Department Teaches Students How to Stay Safe While Riding the City’s 62,000 Elevators and Escalators By on December 15, 2011

We’ve written several times about the NYC Buildings Department’s annual Construction Safety Week, including the citywide safety campaign to encourage construction workers to use proper fall protection.  Another public education program run by the Buildings Department is National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week.  The 8th annual program took place last month.  Aimed at children, the program’s safety slogan is “Ring, Relax, Wait,” which reminds children to ring the elevator’s safety bell in an emergency and wait patiently for help instead of trying to pry the doors open.  Many accidents occur when elevator passengers attempt to jump out of the elevator cab just before the doors unexpectedly close or the elevator moves.

According to the Department’s press release, as part of the program, the Department’s Elevators Unit will teach more than 1,700 first, second and third graders across the City’s five boroughs how to stay safe when using the City’s 62,000 elevators and escalators. Children use these devices on a daily basis, and safety education is critical to ensuring public safety.

Since bringing National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week to the City, the Department has taught thousands of children how to safely ride New York’s 60,000 elevators and 2,400 escalators. In recent years, the Department has expanded classes throughout the month of November in an effort to reach more children and prevent future accidents. Throughout the month, the Elevators Unit visited more than 10 schools throughout the City.

As part of the safety classes, students also watch a short video narrated by “Safety Kat”, the program’s mascot, on the importance of following safety precautions when using elevators and escalators. At the end of the class, each student is given a certificate of competition, a “Junior Inspector” badge, an educational coloring book and the Department’s Elevator/Escalator safety flyer for children, which is printed in both English and Spanish. Students are encouraged to bring the materials home and share what they learned with their family members.

According to the DOB's website, tips discussed during the classes include: 

  • Step on and off of elevators/escalators carefully 
  • Make sure elevators are level with the floor before exiting 
  • Always face forward when riding on escalators 
  • Hold onto the escalator’s handrails 
  • Never touch the sides below the escalator’s handrails 
  • Keep items like loose clothing, ties, scarves and shoelaces clear of closing elevator doors and the spaces between escalator steps 
  • Avoid jumping in elevators so the devices do not stall or become uneven with the floor 
  • Do not use any part of your body to hold the elevator doors open 
  • Never lean on the elevator doors or attempt to pry them open
  • If an elevator gets stuck, remain calm and wait for help

National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week is organized by the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF), a charitable organization formed in 1991 with the mission of using informational programs to educate the public on the safe and proper use of elevators, escalators and moving walks.

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