In a city where window air conditioning units are as ubiquitous as its skyscrapers, it’s every New Yorker’s worst fear: strolling down the street, only to have an air conditioning unit fall on you from a window above.
That nightmare came true for 10 people when a crane dropped a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit it had been loading onto the roof of a building, sending it 30 stories downward onto the Manhattan street below.
According to a May 31 Business Insider article, workers had been using the crane to install a new HVAC system at the 200 block of Madison Avenue near East 38th Street in Midtown.
New York City Fire Department spokeswoman Elisheva Zakheim explained that the unit broke free of its cable and bounced along the building’s facade before landing in the middle of the street. The incident resulted in 10 passerby suffering non-life threatening injuries.
“Thank God, this incident occurred at an hour of the day on a weekend when there were not too many people around,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
Large, commercial HVAC units aren’t the only things that New Yorkers should fear. Every year, Americans spend an astronomical $11 billion on air conditioning. In New York City, where most people live in older buildings without central air conditioning, window units become a necessity during the summer months.
If installed incorrectly, a window unit is surprisingly prone to falling out onto the street below, Slate recently reported. These seemingly-small units can weigh up to 100 pounds, making even a two-story drop fatal for unknowing passerby below.
Luckily, deaths stemming from window units are extremely rare. Since 1988, there has only been one death caused by a falling air conditioner. Yet injuries stemming from these drops are undoubtedly heinous, with pedestrians sustaining head injuries, broken ribs and pelvises, cracked vertebrae and more.
As a result, it’s always worth it to pay that extra installation fee for window units — residents could be saving someone from entering a world of pain.