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How do they work?

An elevator consists of an enclosed cab (elevator car) fastened to one end of steel cables. The cables travel up and over a grooved drive wheel (sheave) and down to a counterweight of cast iron blocks that counterbalance the weight of the car. An electric motor supplies power to move both the car and counterweight guided between steel guide rails in an enclosed shaftway.

Many believe that elevators are held by only one rope. Actually, elevators are supported by multiple steel cables, which, individually, can support a fully loaded car. In fact, according to record, the only elevator fall, due to a complete cable system failure, occurred when the cables inside an elevator at the Empire State Building were severed by an airplane in the 1940s.

Some also believe that the hall doors will open when an elevator is not there. The truth is that the elevator car controls the opening of the hall doors. If the car is not at the landing, the hall doors can't open.

Elevator safety rules:

  • Don't try to stop a closing door with anything, including hands, feet, canes briefcases, etc. Wait for the next elevator.
  • Take the stairs if there is a fire in the building.

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When you enter and leave the elevator:

  • Enter and exit carefully. Watch your step. Hold children's hands firmly.
  • If the doors are stuck, use the emergency call button (or phone, if available) and wait for trained professionals. Stay calm. Do not attempt to leave the car unless directed by trained personnel.
  • Don't extend a hand or anything else to stop a closing door. Not all elevator doors will reopen, and your arm could get caught between two heavy sets of moving doors.
  • To avoid tripping, check the floor at the entrance to make sure that the elevator is level.

It's important to post safety instructions and advise tenants of proper procedures. For example, if passengers become stuck in an elevator, advise them to stay calm. Show them how to use the emergency phone to call for help, and to follow the instruction of trained professionals (elevator or building maintenance, firemen or police). Passengers need to know that there is plenty of air in the elevator. Caution them never to climb out of an elevator. There have been cases where people have fallen down the shaft trying to climb out of an elevator.