How to prepare your elevators for a hurricane, from Schindler

by Brianna Crandall — October 12, 2020 — Hurricane season arrived early this year, and with building and facilities managers (FMs) focused on the complex task of ensuring safety — including safe mobility — in light of COVID-19, the threat of hazardous weather looms heavily. Fortunately, with proper precautions, it is possible to prevent elevator damage and protect building occupants before, during, and after harsh weather events, says mobility provider Schindler Elevator Corporation.

Schindler offers the following best practices — which can be implemented by elevator service providers — for preparing for inclement weather.

Ongoing preparations

“The elevator machine room is a central area of vulnerability during harsh weather, with electrical panels at risk for taking in water,” points out Jakub Glowacki, director of repair for Schindler Elevator Corporation. Before harsh weather arrives, Glowacki recommends the following actions to safeguard your operations:

  • Inspect the elevator machine room’s ventilation openings, windows and doors for possible rain leakage.
  • 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.

At all times, ensure your designated security area has an updated diagram showing the location of your elevators, car numbers, and the elevator car phone number. Your elevator company’s emergency phone number should also be readily available, along with any required numerical designations.

The approaching storm

When it becomes apparent that a storm will reach the area, Glowacki recommends the following immediate steps to prevent damage to elevator equipment:

  • Close all vents and openings at the top of the hoistway 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 lockout/tagout (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, Schindler personnel can help.”

Preparing for power issues is equally critical, asserts Glowacki. Check your power systems for the following:

  • Ensure 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.
  • Confirm that emergency lighting and elevator communications are also operable.

Most importantly, refrain from using an elevator during the weather event, as water can disable elevators and lead to passenger entrapments.

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.

Glowacki explained:

These considerations and precautions must be established ahead of time, as weather conditions can be unpredictable. Develop a process to secure safety of the equipment and its occupants, and conduct practice sessions during low-demand hours in the presence of a supervisor within the facility, and/or trained elevator technician.

CleanMobility touchless technology

To help FMs keep elevator riders safe during COVID-19 and all the time, Schindler has developed a whole suite of award-winning solutions that exist solely to curb the spread of bacteria in elevators and escalators and bring peace of mind. Find out more about Schindler’s CleanMobility touchless and air filtration technologies on the company’s website.

Schindler Elevator Corporation is the North American operation of the Switzerland-based Schindler Group, a global mobility provider of elevators, escalators and related services. Schindler supports sustainable urban development with safe, reliable and sustainable mobility solutions, moving more than one billion people every day all over the world. Behind the company’s success are over 65,000 employees operating in more than 100 countries.