As kids, we remember hearing the admonitions from our parents about how dangerous escalators are. Most of us laughed them off, assuming our parents were just using the big, loud machine to scare us.
It turns out that escalators actually can be very dangerous, though. According to the Center for Disease Control, escalator and elevator accidents injure about 17,000 Americans every year and kill about 30 people.
You might want to know who is most likely to be injured, and how.
New York’s Likeliest Victims
Here’s a clue: Pretty much any New Yorker could wind up the victim of an escalator accident. No one is immune. However, there are population segments that seem to tip the statistical scales.
Perhaps it’s not all that surprising that some of the likeliest victims to be injured on an escalator are children. Take a rain boot incident involving a two-year-old victim, injured while riding the escalator at an airport.
This little guy was riding the escalator with mom when suddenly his mother heard a squeaking sound as his rain boot was being pulled into the side of the escalator.
Fortunately, a bystander was able to push the emergency stop button quickly. The toddler, however, suffered a broken foot and severe bruising and swelling. Had any more time passed before the emergency button was pushed, it would have been much worse.
Individuals over 60 years of age are also at a heightened risk of being injured on an escalator. As we age, our reaction time slows and we tend to generally move a little slower, too.
Getting on and off an elevator often requires quick decision making and fast responses, which can pose a serious risk to those who need more time entering and exiting this type of machine.
Did you know that 50 percent of all men injured in an escalator accident were inebriated at the time? While this may seem like a pretty funny statistic, the injuries are nothing to laugh about.
Being intoxicated is another top factor that indicates someone may be injured on an escalator. Think twice before getting on one after you’ve had a few drinks! It might save you.
If you’re someone who rides the subway or other forms of public transit, you probably come into contact with escalators on a daily basis.
These escalators are probably very crowded, increasing the likelihood that the weight limit is exceeded, somebody gets a shoe stuck, or the escalator malfunctions.
If you ride escalators as often as commuters so, you have a higher risk of being injured on one. That’s simple math.
How New York Escalator Accidents Happen
The most common accidents happen when someone gets a shoe or article of clothing stuck in the top or bottom of an escalator.
Generally, this results in bruising, abrasions, lacerations, and/or broken limbs. So what else seems to contribute to the surprising statistics on NY escalator accidents?
Loose Clothing, Hair, and Other Items
Another fairly common accident occurs when an article of clothing is caught in the handrail of the escalator and strangles the victim. This happened to a male commuter in the Bronx in 2018.
In another incident, a young boy’s hair got caught in the handrail of an airport escalator. As the escalator and handrail continued to move, the boy was carried to the top. He then fell from the top when his hair was released from the handrail, and he died at the scene.
In rare instances, a stair on the escalator can become damaged. When an innocent victim steps on the stair, his foot can go through the escalator, causing entrapment and serious injury.
Also, when escalators are not managed as they should be, they can spontaneously increase or decrease speed with no warning to the passengers. This results in falls, which can also mean injuries.
Sometimes, an escalator collapses if its approved weight limit is exceeded. This is what happened on an overcrowded escalator in Rome.
As boisterous soccer fans jumped up and down on the escalator, it began to malfunction and caused injury to at least 20 people.
How to Keep Yourself Safe on a New York Escalator
In Las Vegas, a man was injured using the escalator, but only because he was not using it correctly. The inebriated individual tried to slide down the handrails on his bottom. Unsurprisingly, he fell off the handrail and was critically injured.
Let this be a lesson. Be aware of your surroundings and please, use the escalator appropriately.
Be sure to keep all shoes, shoelaces, loose clothing, and hair away from the machinery. Whether commuting, traveling, or shopping, you also need to be aware of any loose items.
Ultimately, it’s important to understand that, despite their prevalence and mild appearance, escalators can pose a serious risk to your safety. Especially during the busy holiday shopping season, use adequate caution when riding an escalator in the mall, train station, airport, or wherever you may be. After all, escalator accidents are on the rise, and you don’t want to wind up a statistic.
If you do end up getting hurt and believe it was due to another’s negligence, do not hesitate to fight back. You should never have to pay for someone else’s mistake.