• Chip Nyborg

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Elevator Preparedness Prior to a Storm

Updated: Aug 14, 2018

Written by Chip Nyborg, President of Tri-State Elevator, July 18th, 2018

“It usually takes me two or three days to prepare an impromptu speech.” ― Mark Twain

Hurricane Sandy struck NYC and the metropolitan area in the Fall of 2012, causing billions in damage to private and public structures and infra-structure along with injuries and deaths. Let us not forget the lessons learned from the storm and be better prepared for any pending storm.

Generally speaking, human safety comes first and structural safety second. Obviously, those that rely on an elevator for medical necessity or must use an elevator due to injury or illness should have an alternate arrangement pre-arranged for safe housing and access to medical facilities prior, during and after a storm, not to mention a Plan “B” if they cannot move back home for an extended period of time.

Safety of first responders is an issue easily overlooked. Consider the enormous strain on the first responders prior to and during a storm. One less elevator entrapment might mean the difference between life and death for someone else that has a far more serious issue. The easiest way to help the first responders is to adhere to the governmental warnings and instructions regarding evacuation etc. Secondly, don’t ever use the elevator in a storm. The sudden loss of power to the building can cause an entrapment that a fireman needs to attend, or perhaps an elevator mechanic has to come out during a storm, or after the storm to free a trapped passenger.

I don’t advise using any elevator during a storm, you are just pushing your luck and potentially hurting or killing someone to respond to your entrapment. Elevator mechanics and elevator contractors are not firemen or the fire department and do not have the resources to effectively work during a storm. Many contractors will not send a mechanic out in a storm in an effort to ensure the safety of their workers, whether it is a hurricane or blizzard. Also, don’t rely on emergency power or back-up generators. We have clients that have very sophisticated back-up emergency generators that rely on natural gas for power. There are time when a local utility provider will cut the gas supply to neighborhoods to avoid explosions and fires, so no more gas for the generator. Those generators that work off of propane have a limited amount and at some point will run out. Point being don’t use an elevator in a storm even if the building has back-up generators, batteries etc. Some buildings have propane fueled generators on their roof. When the elevators aren’t running, how can replacement propane make it to the roof? Lastly don’t rely on the emergency phone in the elevator.

Elevators need to be positioned in a building to minimize contact with water. Water can accumulate in the pit, cellar and basement. Water can infiltrate the shaftway at the roof level thru ventilation and underneath doors with wind blown rain or snow. The following link has many tips on preventing or minimizing elevator damage from water and wind. https://www.miamidade.gov/facilities/elevator-hurricane-preparedness.asp Be smart, be prepared.

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