display | more...

I feel the need to document and share my experiences with the emergency stop button. You know, the big red button you see in lifts. Bet you've been tempted to to see what will happen if you press it, but never have?

Well, that was me. One day I was in a lift with a collegue at work, descending towards earth gracefully, when he pushed it. He actually pushed it. It's one of those thingo you think about, but never actually do. It might get stuck. I might get fined. Better not this time...

Basically, this button slams on the brakes and stops the lift instantly. No great surprises there. Then, the lift will start again, descend to the bottom of the shaft, then take you to the desired level. I assume this is because the lift needs to find the top or bottom again to recalibrate itself after the uncontrolled stop.

Jumping while going down
This can be fun. Jump and press the button in mid air. The lift will stop suddenly and you will hit the floor so hard it can be hard to land on both feet. Even more fun while drunk, when you will almost certainly not be able to land on both feet, and will fall into a heap on the floor.

If you jump on the ground, you decelerate due to gravity, come to a stop in the air, then fall back down again, accelarating due to gravity. The velocity you hit the ground at is the amount you accelerated. When you do this in a lift, at the top of the jump, you are stationary relative to the lift, i.e. at the same velocity as the lift. Hit the button, and the lift stops. You keep going, hitting the floor at the speed of the lift, plus the velocity gained while falling from the apex of your jump.

Jumping while going up
You are probably familiar with the effects jumping as the lift decelerates to stop at a floor. Multiply that by a few times to imagine the effect with the emergency stop button. For best effects, press while mid air. Be very careful of the ceiling! You can easily jump a metre or so doing this in a fast lift. Don't jump as high as you can until you are familiar with the lift. Just because it is fun to jump as high as you can in your apartment lift doesn't mean it will be fun in a skyscraper.

This is a simple effect. If you jump on the ground, you are travelling up at whatever speed your feet can manage, decelerating due to gravity, then coming to a stop and falling back down. In the lift, you are travelling up at whatever speed your feet can manage, plus the speed the lift is travelling at. If you don't press the button, the lift keeps rising while you are in the air, so you quickly decelerate to the speed of the lift, and are stationary relative to the lift. Then, you fall to the floor (even though you might still be going up relative to the earth) of the lift. If you press the button mid air, then you still go up as fast, but the lift stops and doesn't "chase" you. You are rising just as fast, but the lift has stopped, so you are going much faster relative to the lift. Ergo, it takes a lot longer to decelate to that speed (0), resulting in a massive jump!

Either way, it is as if you jumped in gravity much stronger or weaker than you're used to, which is fun!!!

Scaring poeple
You should be able to get yor hand over the button while people are in the lift without them noticing. If the button is up high, put your hand over it as if you are leaning against the wall. Push it while they are talking or something, and they will have no idea what is happening. Possibly screams, curses if you do it well. Either crack up and make it clear you were playing a joke, or play along with it if you can. This can be a lot of fun.

Getting stuck
In the lifts at my office, the lifts will jam and not start again on the fourth press. I would imagine this is so that people don't get stuck in a genuine accident, but will stop if you press the button a few times in a real emergency. None of the lifts I have tried have jammed on the first or second go.

If you do get stuck, use the phone and someone will come and get you out. This has happened to me four times. This usually takes about half an hour, since there is nothing actually wrong with the lift, they just have to reset it. I was a bit worried that they'd ask what happened, just to see if there is a fault or something that needs fixing, but they never have. Or, I have been concerned that the stop button sets off an alarm, or gets logged or something, but they've never said anything.

Be careful about doing this after hours. This happened to me and it took a while for the lift company to get access to the control room because they had to contact the building managers after hours which takes a while.

Practical use
Bet you didn't know there was a practical use for this! When you press the button, the lift will stop, go the the bottom of the shaft, then to the destination. So, if you are on level 20 going to ground for lunch, and feel the lift slowing to let someone else on on the way down, press the button. The lift will go straight down to the basement, but not open the doors, them go up to ground, skipping everyone else on the way. This gives you a nice quick ride down, instead of stopping at every second floor on the way down! Even better, when the lift is slowing to let someone on, before you press the button, the light on the floor will light up to show the lift will stop for them, but never stop since it goes straight down!

Escaping
You should be able to pry the doors open if the lift is jammed. They are held shut by strong springs, but not locked shut if the lift is jammed. The doors on the building are locked though, presumably to stop people falling down the lift shaft. There are two knobs about 30cm above the door on the building which must be pulled away from each other to unlock the doors. After separating the knobs, the doors should slide open easily.

So, you should be able to open the doors on the lift, and if you are jammed in the right place just a bit above a floor, you will be able to get at the knobs, pull them apart to unlock the doors below. Slide doors open, and out you go. Sometimes you will be exactly on a level, so the knobs will be out of reach above the lift. Or, the floor of the lift might be a lot higher or lower than the floor outside the lift, making this impractical or dangerous. While doing this, it did occurr to me that if the lift started moving while some of your body was in the lift and some outside, your body would be crushed, making a mess for the cleaner. Still, it has worked two or three times for me, saving the half hour wait for the lift company.

Disclaimer
Don't blame me if playing with the big red button ends in tears. It is not intended as an entertainment device. My experiences as above have beem in a limited number of lifts, obviously your milage will vary in different buildings. You might break your neck on the ceiling, or your ankle on the floor.Your lift might get stuck on the first press. The lift company might have no sympathy and leave you in there for a week to teach you some respect for the emergency stop button.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.