Six Things You Should Do If You Get Stuck In An Elevator

Today started out like any other day: up before 6am, on the road to the office for a pre-work workout by 6:15am, breakfast at my desk at 8am. Around 10:30, I decided it would be fun to head down and grab a soda. So, wallet and cell phone in hand, I made my way towards the 12th floor lobby. I pressed ‘down’, and as my vertical shuttle arrived, I entered not knowing what was about to happen.

If you’ve ever been stuck in an elevator, you know exactly what happens next. The lights flicker, the gravitational descent comes to a sickening stop and the gears grind to a halt. The following could be considered the “six things you should do if you get stuck in an elevator”. These are my six, yours might be different:

Take a breath. If you’re claustrophobic at all, being trapped in a stuck elevator can feel like hell. Simply close your eyes, take a deep breath and settle in for what’s next.

Refrain from announcing to the world that you’re stuck. Odds are, building maintenance crews know the elevators are stuck. In my situation, I refrained from immediately picking up the emergency phone and calling for help. I rang my bell, and didn’t pound or scream. Save your energy…who knows how long you’ll be in there.

Send a text. Let your coworkers, loved ones or associates know that you’re okay. Make light of the situation. I asked one of my colleagues if she thought Jimmy Johns could deliver to a stuck elevator.

"Look Ma, No Power in the Elevator!"

Do some tai chi. If you’re isolated in an elevator, take a few minutes for yourself. I’m by no means a master martial artist, but the few tai chi moves I do know (mostly improvisation, truth be told), I was able to calm my senses by striking a pose and stretch my muscles. Very relaxing!

Ring Ring Ring. Three short bells should do it to make maintenance workers know that someone is in the elevator. Depending on how tall your elevator shaft is, it may take them a while to get to you, but eventually, they’ll find you. Our building has a standby battery lowering UPS – uninterruptible power supply – installed on each elevator, but only for emergency use only. I didn’t feel like my situation was dire, so I just waited it out.

Pack plenty of patience. I was stuck in my elevator for nearly an hour. There wasn’t much I could do. I missed a few e-mails, was late for a staff meeting, but the power was out in the entire building, so much to my chagrin, the meeting was postponed. Being patient can make a miserable situation tolerable.

All in all, it wasn’t that bad. I can now cross ‘stuck in an elevator’ off my bucket list. Next, ‘surviving a capsized boat’ and ‘defeating a grizzly bear in wrestling’ await to be tackled.

How about you – ever been stuck in an elevator? What did you do to pass the time?

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14 Responses to Six Things You Should Do If You Get Stuck In An Elevator

  1. Christina says:

    Reading this actually made me feel more comfortable with going in an elevator. You made me feel like it’s not the worst thing in the world and I will be ok if it ever happens. Thanks

  2. desigirl says:

    I am so scared. I NEVER want this to happen to me. God be with all who get stuck in elevators. GOD BLESS YOU!

  3. vinnay says:


  4. Eza says:

    I wish i could be same as u all….but i am clustrophobic..couldn’t even think of being stuck in, i avoid elevator.

  5. allen says:

    it really helps =)

  6. prajwal p naik says:

    thanks, i was very scared of elevators after reading it i an not scared of elevators

  7. Justine says:

    yeah, i grew up in a project in NYC lived on the 14th floor and remember getting stuck so many times. had to wait til the firemen came and lowered a ladder down from the ceiling opening and we had to climb up and out. it was kind of scary for a kid, but glad to know that there is a way out. by the way, no one has died from being stuck in an elevator, even if the call falls.

  8. katfb says:

    I got stuck in an alevator and I don’t speak russian. This was in russia.
    So… Me and my russain friend, we went down in the elavator from the 9th floor, and we heard a loud clonk noice, we thought it was normal as that lift was last checked in the year 2000. So pretty unreliable. We called the emegency phone, as it was wobbling. and then we had our power cut out. so we got nobody on the phone.
    We tried calling for help, and a man called the services. And then they smashed the door down after two hours. As the doors got stuck. The building was made in 1960’s and we have checks every 10 years. Uhhh… Two years late, eh? But thats russia, you don’t even have to wear seatbelts in cars or anything now…

  9. nick says:

    Well I’m stuck in one right now. Google search and found this. Now I’m sitting on the floor with my dog playing games. FML

    • Haley says:

      How long did it take to open? Were you okay? How would you describe the experience? I’m starting a job soon and have to get rid of my elevator fears.

  10. says:

    I had my first experience this morning. I was stuck for about 20 minutes. The unnerving part was that it dropped a few feet before stopping in between floors. They had to pry the doors open and hold them open while a couple of firefighters helped me jump down about 6 feet. I took the stairs up to my office. I was stuck for about 20 minutes. I’m not at all clautrophobic, I just didn’t want it to give out and crash to the basement…

  11. Joe says:

    I am stuck in an elevator now thanks for the advise!!

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