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Elevator Entrapment

An elevator entrapment may occur due to a mechanical issue or during a power outage. In all likelihood, the elevator car will not fall, you will not run out of oxygen, and if emergency lights are available, they will activate for your safety. Elevators have mechanical safety brakes which operate in all situations, even power failures.

The information below provides guidance on what to do before, during, and after an elevator entrapment occurs.

Before Heading link

  • Keep your mobile phone charged and on you in the event of a power outage; use it to monitor for UIC ALERTs.
  • Avoid rushing into an elevator with closing doors. Instead, wait for the next elevator.
  • Avoid entering a full elevator. Instead, wait for a car with fewer people in it.
  • DO NOT use elevators during a fire unless instructed to do so by the Fire Department.

During Heading link

  • If you are trapped in an elevator, notify police using the call button located within the elevator. If the call button is not working properly, or if you are outside the elevator and know someone is trapped inside, call the UIC Police at (312) 355-5555, or use the UIC SAFE app to initiate a chat with UIC Police, or call 911 if at a regional campus. Notify them of the situation, and provide the following:
    • Your name
    • The building address or location (each elevator car lists the building number inside)
    • The location of the elevator in the building or the car number
    • The issue, if known (power outage, doors not working, stalled between floors)
    • Where (what floor) the car is stopped, if known
    • Known hazards (such as smoke from a fire or strong chemical smells)
    • The number of people in the elevator car and any known medical, access or functional needs.
  • Wait until the dispatcher advises you to disconnect.
  • In the event that the emergency call button is not working and you are unable to call or message UIC Police: Shout or pound on the door to notify others in the building of your situation.
  • Assist other passengers in the elevator to remain calm.
  • Avoid using your phone to conserve battery. Only use it to make emergency calls. Do not waste battery life by posting on social media, exchanging numerous messages, or otherwise.
  • Wait for trained personnel to assist in evacuating an elevator. Follow emergency responder instructions.
  • DO NOT use an open flame or candle when trapped in an elevator.
  • DO NOT pry open elevator doors nor climb the roof escape hatch, unless you are in a life-threatening situation.


After Heading link

  • Be prepared to answer any questions from emergency response personnel and notify them of any injuries or issues you or others are experiencing.
  • After the incident, notify the building manager or facilities contact.
  • Consider talking about your experience with a professional. Resources are available for students and employees.
    • The UIC Counseling Center provides diverse services to help students deal with stress and handle a crisis or trauma.
      • During business hours (M-F, 8:00 am-5:00 pm): Call (312) 996-3490.
      • After business hours: Call (312) 996-3490 and press “2.”
    • Clinical Employee Assistance Services (Employee Assistance Program) is a confidential counseling resource that specializes in working with employees and their family members who are experiencing personal problem(s) that may be affecting the employee’s job performance. Call (312) 996-3588 for information.