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Hurricane Season Safety Guidelines for Your Elevators

May 4, 2023 | Public | 0 comments

Federal agencies are commemorating National Hurricane Preparedness Week April 30-May 6, 2023, in a national campaign to help everyone get ready before hurricane season begins on June 1. Although Facilities Management Advisor has offered many resources over the years about how to prepare your facilities for these dangerous storms, what should you do about your elevators, in particular?

With hazardous weather looming, it’s important that building and facilities managers take proper precautions to help prevent elevator damage and protect the safety of building occupants.

Schindler Elevator Corp. offered the following tips to consider before, during, and after weather-related events. (Managers are encouraged to contact their elevator service provider for implementation of these and other safety measures.)

Ongoing Preparations

“The elevator machine room is a central area of vulnerability during severe weather, with electrical panels at risk for taking in water,” said Jakub Glowacki, Schindler’s director of repair. Before hurricanes or heavy rain arrives, several preventative measures are available to safeguard equipment:

  • Inspect the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows, and doors for possible rain leakage.
  • Install a Liquid Intrusion Detection system (LID) that will intelligently move the elevator to a pre-determined floor to protect both the elevator and the counterweight from being immersed in liquid and potentially suffering irreparable damage.
  • Install metal splash guards around ventilation openings to prevent leakage from reaching electrical panels.
  • If any machine room doors open to the outdoors, be sure to add weather stripping around them.
  • Leverage predictive maintenance technology to help enable remote maintenance and upgrades where possible and ensure equipment is monitored 24/7. Make certain that the designated security area has an updated diagram showing the location of your elevators, car numbers, and the elevator car phone number.
  • Post the elevator company’s emergency phone number, along with any required numerical designations, in an accessible place.

The Approaching Storm

Best practice is to refrain from using an elevator during an intense weather event, as water can disable elevators and lead to entrapments. When it becomes apparent that a storm will reach your area, carry out the following immediate steps:

  • Close all vents and openings at the top of the hoist way to prevent water from entering the elevator shaft.
  • If buildings have enclosed elevators, 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.
  • Once cars are parked appropriately, shut the elevator down with the keyed switch and close the doors to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the equipment.
  • Place the mainline disconnect in the “off” position to completely remove power from the elevator. Follow proper lock out / tag out (LOTO) procedures.

“Ensure you are familiar with your equipment’s emergency systems in the event that you must exit passengers quickly,” added Glowacki. “If you are uncertain about how to proceed at any point, your elevator service provider can help.”

Preparing for power issues is equally critical in the event of storms. Check your power systems for the following:

  • An elevator surge protection system that limits voltage from transient events, helping to prevent elevator down time and costly damage to elevator components.
  • An automatic anti-entrapment system that detects loss of power and cancels any elevator floor calls. Then, using standby battery power, safely lowers or raises the elevator to the closest landing and opens the car door.
  • Emergency power generation system backup or an emergency return system for hydraulic, machine room-less or traction elevators.
  • Operable emergency lighting and elevator communications.

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, contact your elevator service provider and do not resume operation until they have conducted a thorough inspection.

“Weather conditions can be unpredictable, so carrying out these precautions and procedures ahead of time is extremely important,” explained Glowacki. “Developing a process to secure safety of the equipment and its occupants and conducting practice sessions during low-demand hours in the presence of a supervisor and/or trained elevator technician can make all the difference.”

 

By Joe Bebon

ALSO READ: Back to Basics: Preparing Your Facility for Power Outages

The post Hurricane Season Safety Guidelines for Your Elevators appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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