Would You Survive a Falling Elevator?

Published On 02/22/2017 Published On 02/22/2017

Almost everyone has found themselves stuck in an elevator at some point. It usually lasts just a couple minutes. Sometimes more. Rarely does anything go wrong and the chances of things going all the way wrong are basically zero. But if things went completely Speed and you were in a falling elevator as though you were an extra in a Bruce Willis film, could you survive? SciShow tries to answer this question in a new video.

It's not a situation you're likely to encounter. However, you've no doubt asked yourself that question, whether it was prompted by some horrible scene in Final Destination 3 or you just panicked a bit in the elevator at work.

Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is elevators have tons of ways to make sure this doesn't happen. An elevator failure on this magnitude is incredibly unlikely because it would require multiple systems to fail. In fact, most of the above video is spent explaining all those systems and how, even if they fail, there are still more measures in place that likely stop the elevator from a complete free fall. 

While movies portray the elevator drop happening more than it does in real life, you still want to know what happens. That's the bad news. There are a ton of variables -- including the height from which you're falling -- but if your elevator really is in free fall, it's bad. The old myth about jumping at the last second might work, but the amount of strength and timing required means it's close to impossible to do it. (As Mythbusters showed in this mini-episode from years back.)


Unfortunately, SciShow says your best bet might be laying on the floor to spread the impact across your body. It sounds unpleasant. Fortunately, you're probably never going to encounter this situation. However, if you are stuck in an elevator and the police who come to rescue you have Keanu Reeves on staff, be afraid. Elevators are not safe in front of action stars. 

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He's never met a jambalaya he didn't like. Follow him @dlukenelson.



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