What Should You Do if You Get Stuck in an Elevator?

The first order of business is to get help. After that, it's a serious game of wait and see. Deklofenak/Shutterstock

Great question, and I can answer this with the utmost authority, because I frequent elevators a lot. Here’s what to do:

Take a Deep Breath

When the elevator you’re in first lurches to a stop between floors, your gut response may be to panic, especially if you get claustrophobic. But don’t. Getting nervous will only make things worse, especially if you work yourself into a full-blown panic attack and nobody can get in to give you medical attention. So just breathe, and remember that this too shall pass.

Press the Call Button

All elevators have them, and there’s a reason they are there — for situations just like this. Some elevators have an emergency telephone to be used for the same purpose. Your call will signal building maintenance that there’s a problem with your elevator, and set the wheels in motion for your ultimate exodus. If no one answers your call, try banging on the door to get the attention of people outside to let them know you’re stuck inside.

Sit Back and Relax

No matter how quickly building maintenance is called, you will still have to wait for them to come and fix the problem. So use this time to eat a snack, check Facebook (nothing like “stuck in an elevator” for a status update), or read a book. My father always carries a book wherever he goes in case he has a chance to catch up on his reading — and what better spot than a stuck elevator?

Try to Have Fun

If there are other people in the elevator, play an icebreaker. Yeah, I know this one’s cheesy, but if you’ve got nothing else to do, it’ll really help take your mind off the fact that you’re stuck. One to try is called “Two Truths and a Lie” — each person has to say three things about themselves — two things that are true and one that isn’t. Then the other people playing the game have to guess which one is the lie. Or if you’re really ambitious, start a sing-along. Who knows? You may find another person just as obsessed with "Wicked" as you are!

Don't Try to Escape on Your Own

Whatever you do, don’t try to get out on your own. You never know when a stuck elevator could start moving again and if you’re on your way out, you could get crushed.

Stay Calm

The most important thing to do when you’re in a stuck elevator is to stay calm. I’ve seen people go from 0 to completely insane (who am I kidding, I am that person) in a matter of seconds in similar situations. So do as I say and not as I do, and remember that a stuck elevator is a common occurrence. By pressing that elevator call button, you are alerting people to help you with your issue who deal with this sort of thing every day. And remember, at the end of the day, that harrowing experience will be nothing more than a great addition to your cocktail party repertoire.