While no statistics have been issued, Nytimes.com interviewed many workers who suffered from a fear of elevators. If you commute to a large building and elevators trigger enough acrophobia or claustrophobia that you'd rather take numerous flights of stairs, you may want to try some fear-reducing strategies. Read on to learn how safe elevators really are and how to overcome your fears.
Educate Yourself on Their Safety Features
Your fears may be eased if you look at some statistics firsthand. For instance, Gizmodo.com has some great stats that illustrate how elevators are both safer than cars and escalators.
One fear that you may have is of an elevator car losing control and plunging down. However, according to the Washington Post, that occurrence would be unlikely because the elevator would have to overcome many safety features in place. For example, they reported that the ropes (actually 2 to 8 woven steel cables) must be able to hold the mass of a fully loaded car times 12. If you need a good visualization for the cable's strength, you may want to look at the strength of a rock climber's spring-loaded camming device. These wires could only be a few millimeters thick in diameter, but they have immense strength to hold a rock climber and his or her gear. Now, picture a bundle of those camming wires wrapped around in a thick cable—and remember, there is more than one thick cable in place. All of these cables together can hold between 1,000 to 6,000 lbs.
If by some slim chance a cable did fail, the elevator's computer system would detect the change and clamp the pulleys above the car, and the brakes underneath the car would glide smoothly on rails to help stop the elevator comfortably.
Build Up to Riding the Elevator with Exposure Therapy
While learning about elevator safety features can soothe the rational mind, your fears may still get the better of you. A good way to overcome your fears of elevators may be through exposure therapy. You could try this on your own or with the help of a therapist. Basically exposure therapy encourages you to confront your fear in a safe environment. It is also a progressive therapy, so these baby steps will eventually lead to you riding in an elevator.
If you decide to see a therapist, he or she may have you sit or lie down and just visualize being on an elevator. Some therapists actually have simulation software for computers, and you can use it to see an elevator in a game-like setting. After you conquer visualization techniques, you may move on to just being near the elevator or a similarly crowed place (like a train car). Then, you may actually take the elevator up one or two floors and get off. Ultimately, the exposure therapy will build on itself with the goal of you riding the elevator with no problem. This is a great therapy because it can break down any avoidance patterns and negative reinforcement you may be experiencing.
Ride Elevators that Meet Your Standards
Along with educating yourself and receiving therapy, you may want to inquire about your office building's maintenance contract. A more-involved contract may make you feel safer. For instance, a "full-maintenance" contract or a "parts, oil, and grease" contract would be stronger than a "survey and report" contract since the elevators are regularly maintained. "Survey and report" contracts may just have annual or semi-annual inspections. If you find that your building's contract is more lax, you can take the matters into your own hands and petition for more regular maintenance. After all, a stronger contract means less liability on the building or your manager.
With a little effort on your part, you can conquer your fear of elevators. While taking the stairs may be heart-healthy, taking the elevator with confidence could help your mental and emotional well-being. For more information, contact a business such as http://www.capitalelevatorservice.com.