Thousands of people get trapped inside elevators each time Japan is hit by an earthquake – which is unfortunately quite often – and they can remain stranded there for hours. For instance, the recent 8.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan’s Ogasawara Islands halted several elevators for more than an hour, leaving dozens of people trapped inside with no other way out.
To make the traumatic experience a little bit comfortable, Japanese officials are planning to equip elevators with emergency toilets and a supply of drinking water before the next “big one” – a huge earthquake that is almost certain to hit Tokyo over the coming decades and will most probably halt a large number of elevators across the capital.
The odd initiative, which is not as crazy as it may sound, came up during a meeting between infrastructure ministry and elevator industry bodies, where both the parties agreed to look into providing drinking water and toilet facilities for emergencies.
Although Japan’s government has been working to solve this reoccurring technical glitch for quite some time now, the proposal to facilitate citizens with facilities in an emergency is actually pretty thoughtful.
Needless to say, some elevators will be far too small to install toilets; therefore, the government is considering placing collapsible cardboard structures with wet-proof or absorbent paper bags. Some of the new elevators in Japan also have small seating areas for the country’s growing ranks of elderly, which makes installing facilities underneath these seats a possibility.
Senior government officials will soon meet with Association of Elevator Markers to further discuss the proposals.
Japan has about 620,000 elevators in public or commercial buildings, about 150,000 of which are in Tokyo alone.
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