PRE­PARE FOR EL­E­VATED RISK

KEEP­ING YOUR GUARD UP WHEN STUFF GOES DOWN

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Michael D’angona

Keep­ing Your Guard Up In Con­fined Spa­ces

Walk­ing into a box, hav­ing the doors close be­hind you and trav­el­ing some­times hun­dreds of feet or more sus­pended by ca­bles, can in­voke feelings of in­tense fear and anx­i­ety. Add to that the pos­si­bil­ity of the el­e­va­tor stop­ping dur­ing mid-lift or go­ing dark in­side, or hav­ing to share your ride with peo­ple who ap­pear to have mal­ice writ­ten all over their faces. All these sce­nar­ios are very real pos­si­bil­i­ties and as such, dis­rupt the psy­ches of many in­di­vid­u­als hav­ing to ride these tall-build­ing trans­porters.

With con­cerns that range from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, such as earth­quakes, tor­na­does or hur­ri­canes, to me­chan­i­cal fail­ures like sys­tem dis­rup­tions or black­outs through­out the city, to un­sa­vory char­ac­ters us­ing the con­fined space to rob or do harm to others, the fears many peo­ple have are not without jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion, the feel­ing of help­less­ness while con­fined within the cube-shaped struc­ture can dis­rupt a per­son’s abil­ity to stay sharp, think in­tel­li­gently and make sen­si­ble de­ci­sions.

How­ever, your time in one of these con­ve­niences doesn’t have to be a tense and sweat-in­duc­ing 30 sec­onds or more of your daily rou­tine. With some knowl­edge of el­e­va­tor emer­gency sce­nar­ios, cou­pled with some ba­sic self-de­fense tac­tics and, more im­por­tant, sit­u­a­tional aware­ness train­ing, you can walk into the some­times cramped and stuffy el­e­va­tor with con­fi­dence and the mind­set that you can han­dle nearly any­thing that may come your way.

A RECIPE OF PHO­BIAS

There isn’t one spe­cific pho­bia at­tached to the fear of el­e­va­tors. In­stead it’s a com­bi­na­tion of three pho­bias: claus­tro­pho­bia, ago­ra­pho­bia and acro­pho­bia, which re­spec­tively, is the fear of closed spa­ces, the fear of an un­safe place with no way to es­cape it and the fear of heights, no matter how far off the ground the per­son truly is. Each pho­bia alone can cause great dis­tress for the suf­ferer. Add the three to­gether and a per­son can go from fear­ful of the sit­u­a­tion to a full-on panic at­tack.

Even with no other fac­tors in­volved, such as me­chan­i­cal is­sues or power out­ages, one or more of the afore­men­tioned pho­bias can cause se­vere prob­lems for the rider. Many times, the panic is so ex­treme that the per­son will cir­cum­vent the el­e­va­tor and use the stair­way, no matter how many flights are needed to reach their des­ti­na­tion.

There are nu­mer­ous ways and meth­ods to re­duce and even elim­i­nate a pho­bia. The first and most im­por­tant is to prop­erly iden­tify what the pho­bia truly is. This may sound sim­ple, yet many peo­ple claim one type of fear, when in ac­tu­al­ity, it is an off-shoot of what they thought.

For ex­am­ple, many peo­ple avoid go­ing to the doc­tor. But what ex­actly is the true fear? Is it the nee­dle that he may use? Is it the worry of hear­ing bad news? Or is it some­thing else en­tirely? Iden­ti­fy­ing the ac­tual prob­lem is the first step in solv­ing it.

There are sev­eral di­rec­tions of at­tack­ing your fear. Some peo­ple write down a list of goals to get past their fear and fol­low sev­eral steps un­til it’s achieved. Us­ing el­e­va­tors as an ex­am­ple, a per­son could first just watch the el­e­va­tor open, let peo­ple out and close. They would watch re­peat­edly un­til they felt com­fort­able enough to move to step two, which en­tails go­ing in­side. The suf­ferer of

the pho­bia could walk in­side and im­me­di­ately walk out. Re­peat­ing this will de­sen­si­tize them to the closed-in feel and al­low them to move to the fi­nal step of rid­ing the el­e­va­tor. As the per­son feels at ease with the ride as a whole, they again re­peat it un­til it no longer both­ers them, and their fear is re­moved. This method is use­ful for over­com­ing most fears and in the end, the fear of the con­fined space, in­abil­ity to get out or of heights will no longer be such a se­vere prob­lem.

EL­E­VA­TOR SAFETY AWARE­NESS

Per­sonal safety and pro­tec­tion di­rectly re­lated to an el­e­va­tor can be di­vided into two ma­jor cat­e­gories. One, sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, which in­volves a per­son be­ing proac­tive be­fore a phys­i­cal con­flict can oc­cur, and per­sonal self-de­fense, which is needed when a phys­i­cal at­tack is ini­ti­ated. Keep in mind, when sit­u­a­tional aware­ness is fol­lowed, the chances of a phys­i­cal at­tack go down dra­mat­i­cally, so both ar­eas are vi­tally im­por­tant to learn.

Upon en­ter­ing the el­e­va­tor, scan the in­te­rior for oc­cu­pants or, more specif­i­cally, those who look or feel odd or threat­en­ing to you. This could mean peo­ple who phys­i­cally look out of place for the sur­round­ing area or just too many peo­ple within, which in it­self should be avoided. As cliché as it sounds, al­ways trust your in­stincts. Don’t try to ra­tio­nal­ize with your brain that some­one wouldn’t dare do any­thing harm­ful to you. When your sixth sense is trig­gered, lis­ten to it promptly and get off on the very next floor.

If all ini­tially ap­pears safe in the el­e­va­tor, that is no time to let down your guard. You should stand near the con­trol panel with your back to the cor­ner, if pos­si­ble. Never give some­one your back be­cause sneak at­tacks from be­hind are one of the most com­mon types of at­tacks in el­e­va­tors.

Your body lan­guage is as im­por­tant as read­ing the body lan­guage of those around you. You need to ap­pear con­fi­dent and alert and ex­ude the feel­ing that you won’t be a vic­tim if push comes to shove. At­tack­ers in an el­e­va­tor are no dif­fer­ent than bad guys on the street. They prey on the help­less, in­jured or easy tar­gets. Make sure you don’t fall into any of these cat­e­gories. In ad­di­tion, you should keep a bal­ance be­tween ap­pear­ing too ca­sual and re­laxed, and on the other end of the spec­trum, para­noid and rest­less as you wait to ar­rive at your floor.

Keep your per­sonal be­long­ings hid­den or se­cured close to you as much as pos­si­ble, which makes pick­pock­et­ing or grab-and-run a lot more dif­fi­cult. Re­mem­ber, your job is to make

things tough on those in­tent on com­mit­ting a crime against you.

WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE

Some­times all the aware­ness in the world won’t help if some­one is truly in­tent on do­ing you harm. In this case, self-de­fense is a must.

If at all pos­si­ble, when the at­tacker is clos­ing in (which will take only a sec­ond or less in the con­fined space), hit as many but­tons on the con­trol panel as pos­si­ble. The el­e­va­tor will then stop at the clos­est floor. Why all but­tons? Be­cause un­der stress and panic, your senses will be over­whelmed and fig­ur­ing out which floor you are near­est won’t be very clear or easy to de­duce. Press many, and the odds will be in your fa­vor.

Next, if you have a weapon, or a makeshift weapon, use it. This could be your keys, an um­brella (the pointed tip, if it has one, works won­ders), or a pock­etknife of any type or size. Fo­cus your of­fen­sive weapon at­tack to­wards your ag­gres­sor’s vi­tal ar­eas. These are their eyes, throat, groin, ears and neck area. Re­peated stabs, even with seem­ingly blunt keys, can be highly ef­fec­tive as they di­rect your en­ergy into a pre­cise point on their body cre­at­ing in­tense pain on their body’s pres­sure points. If us­ing a knife, make your move­ments small (to avoid them catch­ing your arm), quick, and in a com­bi­na­tion of stabs and slashes. This bar­rage of un­pre­dictable move­ments will keep them off bal­ance and pos­si­bly take them down and out of the fight quickly.

If you are weapon­less, your fight­ing style should be vir­tu­ally the same. At­tack their vi­tal ar­eas with a sin­gle knuckle or gouge their eyes with your fin­ger­tips, or chop their throat with your hand to af­fect their air in­take. Again, as if you were us­ing a weapon, a non-stop flurry of hand strikes, low kicks, and knee and el­bow at­tacks will be what you need to de­fend your­self un­til you hear the ding of the el­e­va­tor reach­ing a floor for you to get to safety.

Many peo­ple feel that the con­fined space gives the ad­van­tage to the at­tacker, but this isn’t en­tirely true. Us­ing close-quar­ter tech­niques, the ad­van­tage at times sides with the in­tended vic­tim.

“IN MOST EL­E­VA­TORS THAT ARE LO­CATED IN AN EARTHQUAKE ZONE, THERE IS AN EARTHQUAKE DE­TEC­TOR SEN­SOR THAT, ONCE TRIG­GERED, WILL TAKE THE EL­E­VA­TOR TO THE NEXT AVAIL­ABLE FLOOR AND OPEN THE DOORS.”

LOCKED IN­SIDE, DAN­GER OUT­SIDE

Be­ing in­side an el­e­va­tor dur­ing a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter is of­ten avoid­able and those signs that state “in an emer­gency, use the stairs” are not there for show…they are meant to be fol­lowed.

But ev­ery­thing doesn’t al­ways go ac­cord­ing to plan and some­times, through no fault of your own, you may find your­self trapped in an el­e­va­tor dur­ing an earthquake, fire or other type of emer­gency. The ques­tion ob­vi­ously is, What do you do if this hap­pens?

In most el­e­va­tors that are lo­cated in an earthquake zone, there is an earthquake de­tec­tor sen­sor that once trig­gered will take the el­e­va­tor to the next avail­able floor and open the doors. If, how­ever, the build­ing and the el­e­va­tor and/or the el­e­va­tor shaft are dam­aged, this won’t be a vi­able op­tion. In­stead, push the call (emer­gency) but­ton and wait. Help may not come in­stantly or for a while, but if you are un­in­jured and don’t panic, you should stay put. Try­ing to pry open the doors and es­cape your con­tain­ment box might be your first in­stinct, but without knowl­edge of the dam­age out­side, you may be leav­ing the fry­ing pan and jump­ing into the fire.

And speak­ing of fire. An el­e­va­tor shaft can be a di­rect line for smoke mov­ing up­ward from the lower lev­els, and if you are in an el­e­va­tor dur­ing a fire, you need to act fast. Bear in mind that most el­e­va­tors have a fire-safety mode

— not un­like an earthquake mode. If smoke is de­tected, the el­e­va­tor should take the pas­sen­gers to the ground floor. If smoke is at the ground floor, then the el­e­va­tor will au­to­mat­i­cally find an al­ter­nate floor and re­lease the doors al­low­ing pas­sen­gers to es­cape.

How­ever, dam­age to a build­ing caused by an earthquake or other dis­as­ter may nul­lify the safe­guards, and your ac­tions to en­sure per­sonal safety must be em­ployed. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth to slow down smoke in­hala­tion and get low to the ground un­til help ar­rives. Ev­ery sec­ond and minute count when it comes to smoke. Press the emer­gency but­ton and try the emer­gency phone if one is avail­able. Again, pry­ing open the doors may only cause more smoke to en­ter or cre­ate phys­i­cal haz­ards that could add more prob­lems to your cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

LIGHTS OUT

Tech­nol­ogy, in gen­eral, has come a long way and the el­e­va­tor is no ex­cep­tion. If a power out­age oc­curs, mod­ern el­e­va­tors will most likely

con­vert to bat­tery backup (not un­like those that keep your com­puter run­ning when the power fails, just much big­ger) and let you off at the next avail­able floor.

For those that don’t have this re­mark­able safety en­hance­ment, they will at least keep the lights on, all but­tons il­lu­mi­nated and keep the emer­gency phone op­er­at­ing. The big­gest fears for peo­ple stuck in mod­ern el­e­va­tors dur­ing a power fail­ure come from the in­di­vid­u­als them­selves as panic, neg­a­tive thoughts and claus­tro­pho­bia set in. It’s im­per­a­tive that if power fails, you stay as calm as pos­si­ble, re­it­er­at­ing to your­self and others that you will have plenty of air (it’s not air­tight, as ex­plained ear­lier), you won’t drop to the base­ment and be killed, and trust that help will be there soon or the power will soon be re­stored. An ob­vi­ous but of­ten over­looked so­lu­tion if you feel that the el­e­va­tor is stuck due to a power is­sue is to press the door-open but­ton. Many times, the doors will open, but be sure to use cau­tion, for the el­e­va­tor and the land­ing may not be prop­erly aligned.

ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAU­TION

The con­ve­nience and speed that an el­e­va­tor pro­vides come with a price, and that is you hav­ing to deal with a plethora of is­sues that may arise as you travel up and down a tall build­ing. It’s up to you to min­i­mize the risk as you ride by know­ing what to do when per­haps a vi­o­lent storm hits, lights go on and off, or sus­pi­cious, out-of-place peo­ple fol­low you in. Do your re­search long be­fore you push that up but­ton, and if you still don’t feel com­fort­able af­ter that, take the stairs.

© GETTY IMAGES

1-2 You should never stand with your back to others while rid­ing in an el­e­va­tor. Al­ways ad­just your stance to see ev­ery­one rid­ing with you. Photo by Michael D’angona 5-7 An el­e­va­tor’s con­fined space can be used against an at­tacker. El­bow and weapon strikes hit harder as the walls pro­vide a solid stop­ping point for the as­sailant. Photo by Michael D’angona

4 With your back to others, you can be­come a vic­tim of theft or worse, with lit­tle or no warn­ing. Photo by Michael D’angona

3 Ei­ther carry a kub­otan (a small steel or hard plas­tic stick used to ap­ply an im­pact or pres­sure) or po­si­tion your keys within your hand for use as a weapon if some­one threat­ens you phys­i­cally. Photo by Michael D’angona

8 Short el­bow strikes in quick rep­e­ti­tion can sur­prise and sub­due an at­tacker un­til the el­e­va­tor car reaches the next floor. Photo by Michael D’angona

© GETTY IMAGES

Un­like what you see in the movies, climb­ing up or down an el­e­va­tor shaft is not easy, safe or prac­ti­cal for es­cape.

© GETTY IMAGES

i Be­low: The “walls are clos­ing in” feel­ing can men­tally break you down if you let it. In­stead, stay pos­i­tive and work on a so­lu­tion in­stead of wor­ry­ing end­lessly.

© GETTY IMAGES

i Right: Many times a per­son out to do you harm jumps into an el­e­va­tor at the last pos­si­ble in­stant ,pre­vent­ing you from get­ting off or call­ing for help.

© GETTY IMAGES

i Top right: If you’re stuck in an el­e­va­tor and it has no emer­gency phone in­side, you may be able to get a sig­nal on your cell­phone and be able to call for help.

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Nearly half of all el­e­va­tor deaths are suf­fered by pro­fes­sion­als work­ing on el­e­va­tor re­pairs or con­struc­tion.

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Far left: Panic can over­come some­one with claus­tro­pho­bia, es­pe­cially when the el­e­va­tor stops be­tween floors. Near left: Push­ing the alarm but­ton should be your first ac­tion if you are stuck in an el­e­va­tor.

© GETTY IMAGES

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