New Emergency Plan: Take the Elevator

Forget the stairs. An engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says that it makes sense to rely more on elevators when evacuating high-rise buildings, since descending steps can be too slow, and overly taxing for those who aren't in good health. In an evacuation, elevators could be programmed to empty the upper floors first, and work down from the top, regardless of how often or firmly the people on the floors below are pressing their call buttons. Of course, people on the lower floors could still race down the stairs. But this new system would focus more on saving the occupants who have 50 stories to descend, and not a lot of time to do it.—Gregory Mone