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Posted at: Sep 9, 2018, 1:45 AM; last updated: Sep 9, 2018, 1:56 AM (IST)CONSUMERS BEWARE!

Stay steady on moving turf

Escalators today lack boards indicating the emergency stop button
Stay steady on moving turf
ISTOCK

Pushpa Girimaji

I am mother to a nine-month baby. Recently, I went shopping at a mall with a few friends and took my child along. However, while going up the escalator from the third to the fourth floor, carrying my baby in my arms, a young boy tried to run past me and I almost lost my balance. Fortunately, a friend of mine steadied me and I came off the escalator safe with the baby. My question is: what kind of precautions should one take while carrying a child on an escalator?

I am really glad that you have asked this question because parents need to be extremely careful while carrying a child on an escalator.  Just three months ago, a ten-month-old slipped from her mother’s hand while she was going up the escalator and fell to her death at a shopping mall in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. 

The death was blamed on the parents’ attempt to take a selfie while on the escalator. That was the most foolhardy thing to do, but, if you look at the video footage of the incident, you will notice that the child was at risk even if the parents were not taking a selfie because the mother is seen carrying the child in her left hand and is on the left side of the escalator –which means she could not hold the handrail at all to stay steady on the moving escalator! And one also sees her with a carry bag! For a safe ride, she should have got on to the right side and held the right handrail and her right hand should have been free to hold the railing. 

However, having said that, I would say that if you have a small baby, it is best to take the lift. Most malls have that option. Or else, you can have a baby carrier (or a kangaroo pouch) and wear the child, so that the child is more stable. These days you can buy them online at reasonable prices. Of course, you need to ensure that you hold on to the handrail firmly while on the escalator. It is also important to ensure that you are not distracted while getting on to the escalator or while exiting from it.

Can you also tell me about the general safety measures one should follow for a safe escalator ride? 

I often notice women getting on to escalators with long dresses or loose pantsm sarees and duppattas trailing after them. This is too risky because these could well get caught in the escalator. In fact, one has to be careful of strings, bags, shoulder straps, etc. getting caught in the handrail too. In April this year, a 10-year-old boy died under highly tragic circumstances in a mall in Chennai. Apparently, the loose end of the adjustment band of the shoulder strap of the boy's backpack got caught in the moving handrail. As the onlookers shouted helplessly, the escalator dragged him along, almost choking him and hurled him over the railing. The boy obviously did not have much of a chance of survival after that fall to the ground 24 feet below. He died after four days of struggle at the hospital. Here, if only the onlookers who screamed for help and asked the boy to throw away the bag, knew about the emergency stop mechanism located at the foot and the top of the escalator, they could well have stopped the machine and saved the boy.

Earlier, escalators in public places had a board indicting the emergency stop button. They also had a trained guard standing near the escalator to deal with such emergency situations and stop the elevator and also instruct people on safe usage. Unfortunately, both have been discontinued and need to be revived without delay.

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