The headline is enough to make you wince: “3-year-old boy’s genitals caught in escalator in Malaysia”. He was sitting on the steps when his pants got caught in the machine and he was sucked in. Freeing him took crowbars, and thirty traumatising minutes.
Another shocking incident was when a young girl turned to talk to her dad on an escalator and her shoe got caught. When he tried to lift her, her big toe tore off.
The gap between the steps and the landing is famously dangerous, which is why there are plenty of health/safety posters advertising that fact. Remember the one featuring shoelaces?
Other parts can literally be deathtraps. In a mall in China, workers forgot to screw down the panels on the landing after maintenance. When a mother and son stepped on them, they collapsed and she just had time to push her child to safety, before being sucked into the machine. Her dead body was recovered four hours later.
Even the rubbery handrails have caused death. In Chongqing, China, a four-year-old boy was caught by the handrail and then trapped against the floor. He later died of his injuries.
Do we really need escalators? As convenient as they are, here’s what we know: They use a ton of electricity: 7,500 kilowatt-hours a year. A better alternative would be to take the stairs – it won’t kill you (unless you fall), and it just might make you healthier.