Falling Air Conditioners and Other Frightening Things that Scare New Yorkers


Many people are scared of zombies, ghosts, or even clowns, but for hardened New Yorkers there are much scarier things to worry about. The city is filled with dangers that can appear out of nowhere and could cause serious injuries, or worse.

With that in mind, here are five things that scare New Yorkers to the bone.

1. Falling Through a Sidewalk Grate

Sidewalk grates are a common sight on New York streets, because they help to ventilate the underground subway system. They also freak out pedestrians, because they think they’ll fall through them.

“I never, ever, ever walk on grates. I know it’s not safe. If it breaks, I can get injured, my family gets injured and I can’t sue the city,” New Yorker Pamela West told WPIX 11.

Pamela’s anxiety around sidewalk grates is not unfounded, as WPIX 11 reports that one person falls through a sidewalk grate about every 20 months in NYC. This statistic may not be dire, but it is still frightening.

2. Air Conditioners Landing on Their Heads

The weather can get really hot in New York and not having an air conditioner can make being inside unbearable. Perhaps because we’re so married to our ACs, or maybe because we don’t have room, we often don’t take our ACs out of the window when it gets colder out.

So that means that year round there’s the risk of an AC falling on an unsuspecting pedestrian on the sidewalk below year-round. What happens is that people often don’t do a good job of placing their ACs in the window correctly, which leaves them unsteadily situated in a window sill. It might not take much to send the AC unit falling.

There have been countless times where an air conditioner has fallen and hit an unsuspecting passerby. In June, an AC fell from a window in East Harlem, hitting a man below and rendering him unconscious, according to ABC 7. Luckily, the man survived, but improperly installed ACs can cause serious injuries and lead to fatalities.

3. Slipping on Subway Stairs

For New Yorkers, using trains to commute is a way of life, with approximately 4.3 million people riding the subway system everyday, according to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The subway can prove to be a more economical way of traveling throughout the five boroughs than driving a car and having to deal with horrific traffic. But that doesn’t mean trains are free of their own horrors.

In 2008, an elderly woman fell down the subway stairs of the Graham Ave L-train station, which left her permanently brain damaged and suffering seizures, according to the NY Post. The woman was able to sue the MTA and was awarded $16 million.

4. Falling Debris

In this city, construction is constant. It takes place all over the city and there should be safety measures in place to protect passerbys. However, there are cases where debris can fall off a building and hit someone below.

On Feb. 16, two people were injured after they were hit by falling debris on Manhattan’s West Side, when high winds caused the debris to fall on them, according to NBC New York. Fortunately, both victims were not seriously injured. Nevertheless, it is scary not knowing what may be falling from above.

5. Getting Hit By a Car

New York has a reputation as a world-class walking city, where locals and tourists pound the pavement to get to their destinations. However, there are also many cars that are racing on the street, which can make crossing the street terrifying for pedestrians. The unsafe driving can lead to accidents where pedestrians are injured or even killed.

A recently released statistic showing an increase in pedestrian deaths and injuries underscores why New Yorkers might be afraid of getting hit these days. City Hall reported that 115 pedestrians were killed by city motorists through September of this year, and 11,085 injured, compared to 97 deaths and 10,500 injuries in the same period in 2015. Clearly, there’s something to be afraid of.

If Something Happens

The city has many hazards that cause New Yorkers to fear the unknown when going about their day. They have to be alert at all times to the unexpected, so that they could be safe from harm. However, accidents do happen even while being cautious. If you were involved in an accident, our attorneys may be able to help. Fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.