Why your kid mustn't play on escalators
Is your child safe on escalators? The death of Mauricio Bell who got strangled when his shirt was caught in an escalator sends shivers down the spine and parents ought to be duly worried.
No one saw it coming. After all, it can’t be possible to die from escalator accidents — can it? In Seattle, USA, middle aged Mauricio Bell was strangled to death last Sunday morning at University Street station bus terminal in the downtown area of the city. His shirt was entangled in the teeth of the moving steps, causing him to choke when he couldn’t free himself.
Police and paramedics arrived too late and Bell tragically died from the strangulation. While it cannot be confirmed if Bell was under the influence of alcohol at that time, officials found an empty bottle of brandy on him, who was also reportedly walking unsteadily before the accident.
While escalator accidents are — unfortunately — extremely common, this case shocked many as it appears clearly preventable. Before the mishap, there were already faults detected earlier but left unfixed, as reported by an inspection by the city’s Department of labour and industries. There was an appalling seven safety concerns left untended to at the time of Bell’s death.
Preventing escalator accidents
Admittedly, the gross neglect of the escalator maintenance was a key factor contributing to the grave accident and death of Mauricio Bell. In addition to this, however, individual responsibility and vigilance also plays a vital role in mitigating such dangerous risks. In Singapore, where escalators are aplenty and many disregard the need to exercise caution in its use, it is important that parents and kids are repeatedly reminded of the need to stay safe when using escalators.
Mums and dads cannot take for granted that escalator rides are just like walking on normal ground. Yes, we know that you’ve boarded them countless times, but a little extra alertness when using them with junior could go a long way in preventing what could go horribly wrong.
Getting on the escalator
1. Watch the direction of the moving steps — When stepping on, refrain from standing on the yellow lines as they separate to form steps as the escalator moves. Also make sure you don’t ride up the wrong side as not only is it embarrassing, it is extremely dangerous and could result in serious accidents.
2. Hold on to your kid’s hands — Little children may not have a balance as good as yours, so make sure that you steady your child and keep them close to you.
3. Don’t bring bulky or heavy things onto the escalator — Besides blocking the way of other users, carrying big items like prams or shopping carts may hinder your movement and cause you to fall more easily.
While riding the escalator
1. Grip the handrails firmly — This will prevent you from losing your balance should you get pushed by the crowd. In MRT stations in Singapore, there intercom announcements reminding passengers to hold on to the handrails at all times.
2. Never sit on the handrails — Handrail riding, a major cause for most escalator accidents around the world, is a cause for many fatal accidents which could have been avoided.
3. Don’t run up or against the movement — Kids may find it fun to climb against the direction of the escalator, but one small trip could result in serious injury, so parents should take precaution to warn their children not to.
Getting off the escalator
1. Move away briskly — After you step off, don’t hog the area as other users behind you might find difficulty moving getting off too and this could result in pushes and shoves that might lead to a fall.
2. Step over the the teeth of the escalator — This is especially important for kids as their smaller feet might get caught into the moving ends of the escalator teeth, causing serious harm.