by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Homeowners with automatic garage door openers that do not automatically
reverse should repair or replace them with new openers
which do reverse to prevent young children from being trapped and
killed under closing garage doors.
According to reports received by the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 60 children between
the ages of 2 and 14 have been trapped and killed under automatic
garage doors since March 1982. This is approximately 4 such
deaths per year. Other children have suffered brain damage or serious
injuries when the closing door contacted them, and failed to
stop and reverse its direction.
CPSC urges consumers to check the condition and operation of
their garage door and the opener. A properly operating garage door
will be "balanced." This means that the door will stay in place when
stopped in any partially opened position. A severely unbalanced
garage door could unexpectedly crash to the floor possibly striking
someone under the open door.
To check the garage door, the garage door opener must be
detached from the door while in the closed position.On most openers
manufactured since 1982, a "quick-release" mechanism is provided
which permits the opener to be detached from the door.
To avoid amputation or crushing injuries, homeowners should be
careful when manually operating the door not to place hands or fin-gers
between door sections or near pulleys, hinges, or springs.
The door should not stick or bind when opened or closed. If doors
are not "balanced," or if they bind or stick, they should be serviced
by a professional.
Once the garage door is operating properly, homeowners should
check to see that the garage door opener's force and limit settings
are adjusted according to manufacturer's instructions. Check the
garage door operator owners manual for any instructions on testing
the safety features. One quick test is to place a 2x4 on the floor
of the garage in the door's path. If the door does not properly
reverse on striking the 2x4 then the garage door opener should be
disengaged until the unit is either adjusted according to the instructions
in the owners manual, repaired, or replaced with a new
garage door opener. A professional garage door service should be
contacted if the homeowner is not comfortable with performing
these tests, repairs and adjustments.
All homeowners should disconnect all garage door openers that
have not been certified as meeting the requirements of the voluntary
ANSI/UL standard 325-1982.The standard calls for a number
of safety features not found on earlier openers, and also subjects
new openers to more stringent safety tests.
CPSC cautions consumers that not all devices that open and close
the garage door are necessarily safe. Some old openers are
equipped with a mechanism that only stops the closing door when
it strikes an object, not reversing the door in the process. Other pre-1982
openers have a device intended to reverse the closing door
when it strikes an object, but for reasons related to age, installation
and maintenance, these products may not be safe enough to pre-vent
entrapment of a child. These openers cannot be adjusted or
repaired to provide the automatic reversing feature found on later
The CPSC requires that all garage door operators manufactured or
imported after January 1, 1993, for sale in the United States be
outfitted with an external entrapment protection system.This system
can be an electric eye, a door edge sensor, or any other device
that provides equivalent protection. If an electric eye is used, it
should be installed at a height of 4 to 6 inches above the floor.
Consumers should inspect garage doors and operation of the door
opener every 30 days to verify that the system is functioning properly.
Hardware and fittings should be checked to keep the door on
track at all times. Should a hazard exist, homeowners should disconnect
the automatic opener from the door as specified in the
owner's manual, and manually open and close the garage door
until needed repair/ replacement is completed.
Lastly, homeowners should relocate the wall switch in the garage
as high as practical above the floor in an effort to restrict children's
use of the automatic garage door. Remote control door operating
devices should be kept locked in the car and away from children.
Parents should also tell their children about the potential hazard.
Article by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov)