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Flipout floor ladders

For when the ship's capsized and the corridors are vertical
  (+5)
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When a ship in distress tips beyond a limiting angle, it becomes impossible to climb what were corridors running across the ship. This means that passengers die who otherwise would have been able to escape.

I propose a ladder, hidden under hinged access panels in the floor. It could be achieved in many ways - the access panels themselves could contain the ladders (think of climbing up something like the shelves in your fridge door, if the analogy isn't too odd) or could simply conceal them - maybe the steps could be the webs of the beams forming the load-bearing structure of the deck.

To allow more people to pass at once, include both a ladder in the access panels and one in the floor. In either case, drain holes to keep the underfloor void dry would probably be sensible for normal use.

Keep them closed in normal operation by whatever means is preferable - magnetic catches, self-weight of the access panels on their hinges, ball latches which release beyond a 35 degree angle - whatever looks like the best solution.

As [scad mientist] suggested - double rungs (or rungs made of small C- or I-section beams) would help to avoid crushed or broken fingers, thereby ensuring that one false step can't cripple the person below you and critically delay the escape of everyone below them.

david_scothern, Apr 19 2014

Obligatory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RV_FLIP
RV FLIP, a vessel designed to be tipped up. [neutrinos_shadow, Apr 23 2014]

[link]






       [+] Or have rope ladders in cupboards at each end, a grab rail along the wall, and actuators to commence unrolling from each and either end. That way a certain amount of adaptive configurability to unexpected ship positional attitudes is built in.
skoomphemph, Apr 19 2014
  

       Solid ladders would be better for large numbers of people: Each rung has its own strength, rather than a hundred people all hanging from one pair of mounting points. Also, they're more stable, so it's less likely that Maisie is going to panic and freeze up at the top while 99 people below her all drown.   

       However, these fixed ladders are no use unless you can get out of your cabin to get to them. Stowing rope ladders over / opposite each cabin door would definitely be a solution to consider.
david_scothern, Apr 19 2014
  

       Yes, they'd pivot according to the tilt of the corridor, so would be automatic and self-adjusting. I suppose solid ladders hanging from hooks on the walls would do the same, and could be constrained to prevent them swinging into people ascending while the corridors were still useable.   

       Put a bunch of rock climbers together with some children and pensioners in a shipping container you tilt this way and that, and you could even generate solutions by experimentation. (Rock climber job is to help others escape, and the job of those the climber helps is to say how horrible or how much fun it was.)
skoomphemph, Apr 19 2014
  

       You should post that, [skoo] - "practice escape environment" or something. Pay your $5 and spend a happy couple of hours clambering through a dimly-lit labyrinth, which changes attitude over time and fills with water.   

       Plenty of foam protection on any corners, lifeguards in handy locations, and film it using IR cameras. Handsome certificate and a small prize for the first ones out. Importantly, no age limits; participants woulld have to sign a suitable liability wavier.
8th of 7, Apr 19 2014
  

       Walls, decks and ceilings could also become ladders in emergencies.
Voice, Apr 19 2014
  

       Agreed [bigsleep] - noting though that stairs may become closer to horizontal as the ship lists (or to vertical, I suppose) where corridors only get harder to navigate. That said, depending on which deck you're on, I guess you've got to negotiate both to get out.
david_scothern, Apr 23 2014
  

       One thing to add to your ladders... Make sure there are lots of them adn make them have double rungs, so when crowds of people are trying to climb them, people can hold only the lower of each pair of rungs to avoid getting their fingers crushed by the people above them.   

       From a recent news report: "Many of the children's bodies recovered from the sunken South Korea ferry in the past two days had broken fingers, local media reported - suggesting the victims had frantically tried to climb walls or floors to escape in their final moments."   

       I like they way they put it as if they broke their own fingers in an attempt to get out. I suspect the fingers actually were mainly broken by other people stepping on them as a large number of people tried to climb out at the same time.
scad mientist, Apr 23 2014
  

       Is it weird that I've daydreamed many times since I was a kid about what it would be like if any given ceiling or wall suddenly became the floor?   
      
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