EDMONTON – We sometimes hear about shoelaces and scarves getting stuck in escalators, but a close call at an Edmonton shopping mall has one parent warning others about the potential dangers of a certain kind of footwear: rubber boots.
Tianna Grenier was holding her daughter Chanelle’s hand as they rode the escalator, when she suddenly heard some squeaking.
“I assumed she was goofing around and so I said, ‘oh, you’ve got to be careful.’ And she started screaming at that moment…I looked down and I saw the boot, the side, being sucked in.”
“She just started screaming, ‘mommy, ow; mommy, ow; help, help, help!”
Unable to pull her daughter’s foot out of the rubber boot, the mother started yelling for help.
“You just go into panic mode.”
Other shoppers pushed the emergency stop button, and an employee working nearby ran over with an Exacto knife. The mom used it to carefully cut off the boot, which had tightened around her daughter’s foot, while another shopper helped keep her daughter calm.
The crowd erupted into applause as soon as the young girl’s foot was freed.
Aside from being a little shaken up, Chanelle was fine. But she’s not the only one this has happened to. There have been instances around the world of plastic or rubber shoes getting caught in escalators.
To avoid future cases, experts say it’s not enough to just be careful while getting on and off an escalator; the sides can pose risks as well.
“Many of the new shoe products…rubber boots, soft rubber sandals and all those types of new materials, they don’t have the rigidity that traditional shoes had,” explained Gary McCartney of West Edmonton Mall’s Safety and Security team.
“The very small crack between the moving stairway and the sidewall…it’s very small but, unfortunately, the rubber compounds we are talking about – it’s very easy for them to get sucked into that thing.”
Based on what McCartney sometimes sees on surveillance footage, he believes not enough people respect escalators for what they are: a mechanical device with moving parts.
Aside from paying more attention, experts recommend the following:
Escalator Safety Tips
1. Step on and off quickly and carefully.
2. Hold the handrail.
3. Stand facing forward.
4. Keep hands, feet and clothing clear of moving parts.
5. Always wear shoes on escalator. No loose clothing or shoelaces.
6. Passengers only. No strollers, carts or large packages.
7. Hold the hand of young children.
Grenier says that while she’s heard of loose clothing and shoelaces being potentially hazardous on escalators, she had never heard about rubber boots.
“I thought I had all my bases covered, I’m always really careful on escalators with the kids,” she said. “It was just one of those bizarre accidents that happened, and we are just so thankful that she’s ok.”
“If I can help one parent not have that happen again, that’s what I will do.”
With files from Julie Matthews, Global News
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