NY Woman Injured after Hair Becomes Trapped in Escalator Stairs

escalator3.jpgA 32-year-old woman suffered serious injuries after her hair become trapped between escalator stairs on July 3, 2013. The woman, who suffers from epilepsy, suddenly lost consciousness while riding an escalator at a subway station at 125th Street and Broadway in Harlem, New York. After her head hit the steps, the escalator kept moving, trapping the woman’s hair between the stairs. A nearby police officer who witnessed the accident hit an emergency button to shut down the escalator. The woman lost a significant amount of hair, as well as some of her scalp as a result of the accident. After being freed by emergency responders, the woman was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was treated for cuts to her face, legs and arms. The escalator was shut down for two days after the incident.

Sha Johnson, who witnessed the entire accident, remarked, “She looked like she was passed out. She was wearing shorts and one of her legs was all cut up…I’ll probably take the stairs from now on.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a governmental agency that oversees the safety of thousands of consumer products and items, approximately 11,000 people were injured in escalator accidents in 2007. A majority of these injuries were caused by falls; escalator steps are higher than regular steps and are not designed to be used like traditional stairs. When people try to climb escalator steps, they are susceptible to trips and falls. Ten percent, or roughly 1,100, of the injuries occur when a person’s hand, foot, toes or shoes become trapped between moving steps. In many cases, people who sustained such injuries were wearing soft-soled shoes, such as flip-flops, while riding the escalator.

There are several actions a person can take to avoid escalator accidents. First, a person should never climb escalator steps to avoid trips and falls. Second, a person should only wear hard-soled shoes and ensure that their shoelaces are tied before riding an escalator. In addition, escalator riders should always stand in the center of the step to avoid becoming entrapped on the side of the steps. Moreover, people riding with children should hold a child’s hand and make sure the children are not playing on the moving escalator. Riders should always face forward and hold onto the handrail to avoid falling in the event the escalator suddenly jolts to a sudden stop. People should never ride an escalator with a walker, baby stroller, wheelchair or shopping cart. Finally, riders should always be aware of the location of the escalator’s emergency button which can be pushed to stop the escalator if an accident does occur. Stopping an escalator can prevent further harm or injuries to passengers.

More on this story can be found at NBC.com and gothamist.

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