Here’s a little smart-ass info to get this blog started: Another name for escalator is moving stairway or moving staircase. But those terms are pretty much out of fashion today. When I was a kid, I used to take on such a moving staircase. It was going down but I tried to run up on it. That was about 40 years ago. I wanted to know if that was possible. Yes, it’s possible, but please don’t try it! Attempts like this are dangerous – very dangerous, indeed! But no one told me that back then. Later, when I was a mother, I took my little ones by the hand – probably instinctively.
More dangerous than many department store customers believe
Thanks to Youtube, television reports and international comparisons, we now know more about the dangers of escalators. Terrible accidents have been documented – most of them avoidable. Regular maintenance and periodic inspections contribute to the safety of the technical equipment. In Germany these are mandatory: a sticker with the next inspection date must be affixed to every escalator, just like in elevators. But the users themselves can also ensure that the ride on the escalator is safe.
Safety tips for users
The experts at TÜV Rheinland recommend: Always hold on to the handrail! “Disgusting,” say those who suspect a bunch of germs there. “Useless” is what others say who don’t think it will prevent any harm. Well, during our video shoot, I asked our test engineer to do an emergency stop while I was going up the escalator. I knew what was coming so I held on tightly. However, the escalator drive, which weighs several tons, stopped so abruptly that I staggered forward. My mother would surely have fallen down immediately, even if she had known what was going to happen.
After this experience, I also wanted to do the downward test and see what it feels like when the escalator stops abruptly. Wow! Although I had held on firmly, I could hardly stop and needed two steps to catch myself. The force is enormous. If there are several people on the escalator, they could fall like dominoes.
I’m also taking a close look at the comb plate today. This is the jagged plate where the steps of the escalator disappear or appear – depending on where you are. Another piece of advice: look down to make sure that no scarf or shoelace is hanging down that can be pulled into the recess. There’s a tremendous force at work that can even make it a death trap. But enough of the horror scenarios: escalators are very safe in Germany, especially if they are used properly. Therefore, it is best to follow our tips – even if they may sound trivial. And please: no experiments triggered by childish exuberance! There are other playgrounds for that!