It happened to me at Rome’s international airport. Delirious and loaded up with luggage after a 24 hour flight, I stepped onto the escalator and … my shoe laces become tangled in the steps.
My heart sunk as the landing approached and I tried desperately to yank my lace free, but it become more entangled and got tighter and tighter.
My quick thinking partner took the luggage, jumped off before me and tried to help pull my shoe off. It was firmly fixed though. I frantically tugged at my shoe while the passengers banked up behind me until, right at the exit point, the laces tore to shreds and broke free.
It was sweat-inducing, but it could have been worse.
Louise, mum to Cooper, 7, was more quick thinking than me. “Cooper was in front of me on the escalator and his shoelace become stuck and wedged between the steps,” she explains. “I tried to pull his shoe off but it wouldn’t budge. Then as we approached the landing, I hit the emergency red ‘stop’ button and the escalator stopped. Copper was shaking in his boots – or sneakers! After that, he learned to tie his laces properly. He doesn’t let them dangle around now!”
Many parents don’t consciously consider the safety rules kids should follow when it comes to safely riding escalators, travelators and elevators, but it’s worth five minutes of your time. Believe me!
Here, Nikole Gore-Layton, Executive Director of the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation shares her five top safety tips …
1. Watch your step
Kids, no catching Pokemon on approach or departure – concentrate! “Always be careful when getting in and out of an elevator and on and off an escalator,” says Nikole. “Many accidents can happen when children aren’t paying attention. Let people step out of an elevator before stepping in and step carefully out once the elevator has stopped and the doors are fully open. Getting on an escalator, children should be facing forward – no shoving or running and step fully on to the step. Stepping off, children should be paying attention to when they reach the top and carefully step off the escalator and away so people behind them can also step off after them.”
2. Take note of shoelaces and clothing
You’ll be familiar with the two close shoelace-shaves! “Shoelaces can pose a hazard and get stuck in escalators easily,” confirms Nikole. “Make sure before stepping on an escalator shoelaces are tied up. When they are dragging under the shoe, they can get caught. It’s one of the most common types of accidents on escalators, and prevention is key. If a shoelace does get stuck, hit the red emergency button at the top of the escalator near the exit and take the child’s foot out of the shoe, removing them from the escalator and to safety.”
Now she tells me…!
3. Be careful of little hands
Just like you tell your little one to keep their digits out of door cracks, the same applies for escalators and elevators. “Always be careful of where a child’s hands are in an elevator and on an escalator,” suggests Nikole. “When on an elevator, children should stand back from the opening and closing door and watch that their hands are not caught. On an escalator, children should hold on to the handrail for safety and balance if they can reach. If not, a parent should hold on to them by the hand but make sure the child is not touching the sides below the handrail.”
4. Pay attention
Little minds have big imaginations and are easily distracted, we know that. But mummy and daddy, you need to be paying attention too (no mobile phone talking and walking, got it?).
“Attention is a key to prevention. Elevators and escalators are constantly moving with people coming and going. Kids can get lost and hurt in the movement. Children should never be left unattended on an escalator or elevator. They should stand forward, be aware of what’s around them, and move quickly and safely.”
5. Be emergency ready
And we’re not talking the ‘little red button’ here, either. “If there is an emergency like a fire in the building, take the stairs,” advises Nikole. “People can become trapped in an elevator and escalators because they can stop running if the power goes out. While it’s possible to walk up the escalator safely, traditional stairs are easier for walking and preferable in an emergency if power is out, and it’s safe to do so.”
Too much info to remember? Try the condensed safety rulz version
But be warned, I’ll spot quiz you later …
1) Watch your step
2) Leave closing doors alone
3) If doors don’t open ring alarm button and wait
4) If there is a fire in the building use stairs
Escalators & Moving Walks
1) Step on and off carefully
2) People only – NO strollers, carts, animals, luggage
3) Hold the handrail
4) Take care of younger children. Never leave unattended
5) Do not touch the sides below the handrail
6) Stand facing forward
To learn more about elevator and escalator safety as well as access great teaching games, puzzles, quizzes, activities and more for kids, visit SafeTRiders.org.