As Hurricane Florence bears down upon the southeastern U.S., preparing their buildings for extreme weather conditions is on many facility managers’ minds. During a season in which weather can be potentially hazardous, it’s important that building and facility managers take the proper precautions to help prevent elevator damage and protect the safety of building occupants.
Schindler Elevator Corporation offers the following tips to consider before, during, and after weather-related events. Customers should contact their elevator service provider for implementation of these and other safety measures.
“Building and facility managers should first inspect the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows and doors for possible rain leakage,” commented Bryan Budnik, director of Repair at Schindler Elevator Corporation. “If water leakage is found during the inspection, it can be prevented from reaching electrical panels by installing metal splash guards around ventilation openings and weather stripping around any machine room doors that open to the outdoors.”
A diagram showing the location of your elevators, car number,s and the elevator car phone number should be in your designated security area. In addition, you should have your elevator company’s emergency phone number available along with any required numerical designations.
Before the Storm
Steps to prevent weather damage to elevator equipment should be taken immediately, noted Budnik. They include:
- Closing all vents and openings at the top of the hoistway to prevent water from entering the elevator shaft.
- Barricading the machine room, so that that no occupants are left in buildings that are reliant on elevators for egress.
- If buildings have elevators that are enclosed, managers should run each car to the center of the building, or to the top floor for two-story buildings.
- Elevators exposed to the outdoors should always be run to the floor below the top.
“Managers should also familiarize themselves with their equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly,” added Budnik. “After cars are parked appropriately, shut the elevator down with the keyed switch and close the doors to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the equipment. In addition, place the mainline disconnect in the ‘off’ position to completely remove power from the elevator. Schindler personnel can provide assistance if a customer is unsure of what to do.”
While parking elevators and preventing unauthorized use is important, preparing for power problems is a necessity. “Managers should also familiarize themselves with their equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly,” added Budnik. “Ensure that the elevator has a surge protection system. If there is an emergency power generation system backup or an emergency return system for hydraulic, machine room-less or traction elevators, make sure it is reliable. Also ensure that emergency lighting and elevator communications are operable.”
After The Storm
Refrain from using an elevator during the weather event as water can disable elevators and lead to dangerous passenger entrapments. As soon as the weather has cleared, check for water on the control panels or in the machine room before restoring power. If water is found, do not resume operation until the elevator service provider conducts a thorough inspection.
“Because weather conditions can be unpredictable, Schindler recommends facility and building managers take these precautions and set up a process ahead of time in order to secure safety of the equipment and its occupants,” said Budnik. “Practice sessions should be conducted during low-demand hours of the elevator system and in the presence of a supervisor within the facility, and/or trained elevator technician.”