Régie du bâtiment du Québec

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This content in English is intended for individuals covered by the exceptions to the Charter of the French language and its regulations.

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Do you ever find yourself keeping the doors of an elevator cab from closing completely either with your arm or leg? If so, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) invites you to think over what you may learn with this page.

Avoid extending an arm or leg to reopen the doors

Most elevators are now equipped with sophisticated devices to reopen the doors by automatically detecting objects that obstruct closing. However, these devices do not eliminate completely the accident risks. Indeed, some elevators are equipped with electromechanical devices, which, in the absence of physical contact between the contact bar and a person or an object, do not trigger the reopening of the doors. Such devices are more likely to cause accidents. It should also be noted that an infrared door reopening device, which might be hampered by smoke or flames, must be rendered inoperative after 20 seconds when you stand in front of the detector. The mechanism will shut the doors again automatically, even if you attempt to prevent them from closing. The kinetic energy of the doors is, however, reduced when they close, to avoid the risk of injury.

Closing speed of cab doors

Since the time it takes for the doors to close is essential to the overall performance of elevators, designers must compromise between efficiency and safety. To this end, the Safety Code for Elevators, Dumbwaiters, Escalators and Moving Walks prescribes a method of calculating and limiting kinetic energy, i.e. the relationship between the weight of the car doors and the hoistway doors and their speed. As is true of any mechanical device, the adjustment of the maximum speed can sometimes be deficient, which increases the risk of being struck by the doors and falling. To avoid the risk of injury and accidents, never use your arm or leg to prevent an elevator’s doors from closing; simply wait for the next car instead!

If you remain stuck

Most people fear remaining stuck inside an elevator. Even if this situation actually happens quite rarely, it can be stressful, particularly for those who suffer from claustrophobia or an anxiety disorder.
  • Remain calm. You will not be deprived of air to breathe. Elevators, old and new, are naturally ventilated.
  • Try to push in another floor button; this might restart the elevator.
  • Use the telephone button or the alarm of the elevator to call for help. You may also use your cell phone, provided the signal is available, to call 911. If these safety devices are not operational, you might have to scream or strike the walls of the cab to alert of your presence. Do stop screaming or striking occasionally in order to listen for any answer to your call for help.
  • Remain away from the doors. Do not try to open the elevator doors or leave the cab by your own means. Your safety is at stake!
  • Wait calmly for help; you may engage in a breathing exercise. To alleviate the notion of time in such circumstances, try to keep your mind occupied, by reading for instance.
  • Accept help only from a person who is trained in safe evacuation techniques.

If you discover that someone is stuck inside an elevator:

  • Call the person in charge of security in the building, or dial 911.
  • Try to talk to the occupants of the elevator. Inform them that you have called for help.
  • Keep a calm attitude yourself, and advise the occupant to remain calm.
  • Remind the occupants not to try and leave the stuck elevator by themselves.
  • Do not try yourself to assist the occupants in escaping the elevator.
  • Remain on site until help arrives.

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