How should you prepare your elevators for hurricane season? Read Schindler’s tips

by Brianna Crandall — August 16, 2019 — Eight hurricanes hit the United States in 2018, two of which were labeled as major storms (Category 3 and above), resulting in $50 billion in damages. As storms become stronger and more frequent, building and facilities managers (FMs) must be prepared in order to avoid costly repairs. During hurricane seasons, it is increasingly important for FMs to take proper precautions to help prevent damage to elevators and keep building occupants safe.

Schindler Elevator Corporation, the North American operation of the Switzerland-based global mobility provider Schindler Group, offers the following tips to consider before, during and after weather-related events. Customers are advised to contact their elevator service provider for implementation of these and other safety measures.

Initial preparations

Bryan Budnik, director of Repair at Schindler Elevator Corporation, stated:

Building and facility managers should first inspect the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows and doors for possible rain leakage. 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 numbers 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

Budnik continued:

Managers should also familiarize themselves with their equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly. 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, according to Schindler.

Budnik added:

Managers should also familiarize themselves with their equipment’s emergency systems in case there is a need to exit passengers quickly. 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 tested to ensure reliability. Also confirm that emergency lighting and elevator communications are fully operable.

Steps to prevent weather damage to elevator equipment should be taken immediately before the storm:

  • 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.

During the storm

Refrain from using an elevator during the weather event as water can disable elevators and lead to dangerous passenger entrapments, warns Schindler.

After the storm

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.

Budnik concluded:

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. 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.

Schindler offers additional safety Tips for Owners and Managers for storms and other emergency situations on the company’s website. Schindler provides elevators, escalators and related services through over 60,000 employees operating in more than 100 countries.