If you’ve seen the movie Tower of Terror as a child, chances are at some point in your life you’ve had an irrational fear of an elevator breaking and free falling. The thought of falling is scary enough, but something about the thought of free falling to the unknown while trapped in an elevator seems terrifying.
However, did you know that the likelihood of this happening is actually quite rare? There are tons of myths and misconceptions when it comes to elevators and elevator safety.
For example, many people are under the assumption that elevators are only held up by one rope or pulley system, and if something were to happen to this cable, the elevator would free fall. However this isn’t actually the case. Elevators are actually supported by multiple steel cables that individually have the capability to hold up an entire car.
The only incident in which an elevator fall occurred due to cable malfunction was during 1945 when a plane crashed into the Empire State Building. However, if you’re still feeling squeamish about elevators, here are a few tips that could help to save your life if you ever found yourself in a free falling elevator.
1. Don’t Jump: There is a pretty common myth that the thing to do in a free falling elevator is to jump moments before you land in an attempt to decrease the impact.
While this technically could work, you would have to have absolutely impeccable timing, as well as being able to jump at exactly the same speed that the elevator is falling.
Most likely, what would end up happening is you would first hit your head on the top of the elevator, and then you would hit the floor and land badly which would only increase the chance of injury.
This theory has been tested and proven to be fake by the Mythbusters. So even though you can feel the extra gravity when you jump in a moving elevator, it won’t help you if it’s free-falling.
2. Don’t Stand Straight: Standing up straight is also not the best option if you are trapped in a moving elevator. Some people may try to maintain a standing position in order to avoid injury but doing this will actually have the opposite effect.
Since you are about to experience the impact of a crushing weight, standing could cause serious injury to your legs and spine.
The amount of gravity pushing down on your body is nearly ten times what you normally experience.
Definitely make sure you try and take a different position than standing up straight for a fall. Think about the fact that when you jump, you would land with bent legs.
3. Sitting: Some people’s natural response in a falling elevator might be to sit down. However if the lift is full of people, this might not actually be the best option to go with.
Although your total load while sitting is less than if you were standing, this position will also cause injury to your spine.
The best position for being in a falling elevator with people is to try and lie down with the knees up. This way you will also be able to use you hands to protect the eyes and face from any debris.
This position will help to reduce the force of the impact as more of your body is touching the ground as opposed to it all being taken in one spot.
4. Bending Legs: You may be under the assumption that bending your legs or bracing yourself could help protect you from impact.
However, this is actually not the case. Because of the amount of G-force that will be pushing down on your body, you won’t even be able to support the weight of your body doing this.
In fact, there will be so much pressure pushing down on you that your head will be too heavy for your shoulders.
So clearly holding onto the banister or tucking your legs isn’t going to help you too much in this situation. It’s important to remember that an elevator falling is extremely rare!
5. Lay Down: The best way to brace yourself during an elevator fall is to lie down flat on the ground if you are on your own.
This will properly distribute your body weight and will ensure that no particular body part is subject to the highest amount of impact.
However, any way you brace for impact in an elevator is still going to be extremely painful and possibly cause injuries, so if you’re super paranoid you’re probably better off taking the stairs. But then again, a tumble down a flight of stairs may not be too great either.
Now you know some of the best tips for being trapped in a falling elevator. Here’s hoping you never have to use any of them!