Otis volunteer Hao Yong (right) and his daughter Hao Yiran (second right) instruct children in Tianjin about escalator safety. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Hao Yiran, 8, never thought that the safety class she volunteered to teach could be so meaningful. After several escalator-related incidents happened in China in recent years, she said it is important for kids to know where the stop buttons are.
"I wouldn't have known it was wrong to jump on and off when taking escalators, if I were not a volunteer," she said. "But it is very dangerous."
Hao and her parents have volunteered to teach 16 elevator safety classes to more than 500 teenagers and preschool kids in Tianjin since 2013.
The family is among the 1,000 volunteers organized by Otis Elevators.
By 2015, more than 960 employees in the company have taught safety classes in 33 Chinese cities, the company said.
"People are taught to drive a car or take flights safely, but no such classes are given on how to ride an escalator, even though we ride on every day," said Tony Black, president of Otis Elevator (Investment) Co Ltd, adding that many children or even grown-ups may not know how to use elevators in a right way.
To improve public awareness of and knowledge in riding escalators safely, Otis has developed a series of safety education campaigns nationwide since 2012, including publishing a safety book and rolling out Safe Rider Program under which Otis employees are mobilized to volunteer and teach escalator safety at their own communities.
"It's part of the company's responsibility to ensure not only our products are safe but also they are safely used. So we choose to focus on elevator riding safety," Black said.
Otis' safety book, How Children Keep Safe, is a cartoon book mainly targeted at children aged from 3 to 7 and covers anything from elevator and escalator safety to general safety knowledge, such as safety at schools, safety on the road, and safety at home.
Official data shows that China is already the largest market in terms of newly installed units and the number of China's elevators and escalators has reached 3.6 million units by the end of 2014. It will keep rising at 15-20 percent annually.
But the rapid increase in the number of escalators has also posed a challenge to public safety due to a lack of education on safety use and malfunctioning equipment.
"Today, it is becoming more and more important to know this safety knowledge, not only for yourselves but also for people around you," said Lydia Jin, communications director of the company.
"Currently one out of six employees is a volunteer and has taught a class of 45 minutes or longer－it seemed a mission impossible when we rolled out the program two years ago.
"But we did it. Our goal is that every employee will volunteer and teach at least one safety class each year."
In addition to its own employees, many outside partners have also signed up for the program. Technical supervision bureaus in cities such as Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou have jointly organized safety training sessions with Otis, according to Jin.
"People feel good about doing good things and once we have mechanisms in place to unlock that passion, the whole program will be growing on its own," she added.