Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Recommendations for Elevator Messaging Strategies



Erica D. Kuligowski, Bryan L. Hoskins


Building occupants, who have been instructed to use elevators for evacuation, and have subsequently congregated within the elevator lobby for eventual evacuation, are presented with an uncertain and potentially intimidating situation. For example, waiting occupants may wonder when the next elevator will arrive. Also, they may wonder if the elevators are still in service and similarly, if they should continue waiting for an elevator to arrive or use the stairs for evacuation instead. Emergency messages and signage can be used to provide evacuation instructions to building occupants during an emergency. This report focuses on establishing guidance for emergency message providers on the ways to convey the status of elevators usage during building emergencies. A literature review has been conducted that specifically focuses on occupant response to visual signage for elevator usage, including elevator status message content and appropriate characteristics of visual signage found to improve emergency decision-making of occupants. Additionally, examples are provided for canned or standardized elevator voice or text messages to be used during fire emergencies.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1730
Report Number


Elevator, evacuation, emergency communication, emergency messages, fires


Kuligowski, E. and Hoskins, B. (2012), Recommendations for Elevator Messaging Strategies, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created January 6, 2012, Updated February 19, 2017