Unfortunately, each year there are accidents involving children and the use of garage doors. This is due to the fact that more and more family members use the garage door as the primary entry point to the house, including kids coming home from school. Thus, it is crucial to instruct them on the potential risks associated with the garage door, the largest moving object in the home.
Let’s go over the basic rules to teach your children and the precautions you yourself can take to ensure their safety.
Take the time you need to clearly explain to your children, both young and old, how to safely use the garage door. Put their safety first!
First of all – a garage door is not a toy!
If you are having difficulty imagining how an accident can occur, here is a scenario that has happened more than once and that resulted in rather serious injuries to children.
The situation is two siblings wanting to use the garage to go outside. The first brother, the older one, presses on the wall control panel located in the garage near the door to the house to open the door. He waits for the door to open completely, all the while his younger brother is still in the house but intends to follow his brother. With only that control panel to close the garage door, the older brother presses once more on the control button and starts running out. From experience, he knows he has to jump over the invisible beam between the photo-eyes located about 4 inches (10 cm) from the floor to avoid the automatic reverse mechanism.
While this is going on, the younger brother sees the older hurrying out and, wanting to imitate him, follows. The garage door is closing faster than he thinks so he runs faster and unfortunately trips over some object and falls in the path of the door. Without being detected by the photo-eye system, for instance his small leg is under the 4-inch minimum, or if the system isn’t working correctly, he is hit by the garage door!
If the other automatic reverse system, that of the mechanical system, is correctly adjusted, the worst case scenario is avoided, that of being crushed by the garage door! Does that sound a little extreme to you? Then consider this: the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that in 2007, close to 150 accidents occurred when children were racing to beat a closing garage door. As well, it is not rare to read in North American newspapers of the unfortunate crushing followed by death of at least one child per year due to a garage door. In total, there are approximately 20,000 emergency room visits annually caused by garage doors.
Here is a guide to prevent childhood accidents associated with garage doors
- The control panel for the door opener must be out a child’s reach: This is the control panel, like a doorbell, that is located in the garage near the access door to the house. This unit must be placed at least 5 feet (1.5 m) from the floor or the highest step leading into the house. Also, never for any reason ask a young child to press on this button to open or close the garage door.
- Never let your children handle the garage door remote control: This is not a toy and should not be treated as one. We don’t have to tell you that kids love small electronic devices…
- Keep a close eye on children while you are using the door opener: Even being distracted for 2 or 3 seconds is enough for an accident to happen. Children don’t have any idea of the potential danger.
- Never allow a child to hang on to the garage door while it is moving: If you have a double garage door (ex.: 16 feet – 4.9 m wide) it certainly has reinforcement struts. These should never be used as footholds to climb on the garage door. The same goes for the lift handle installed on the lowest section. At no time should children hang on the handle to be lifted by the door.
- Install an exterior keypad: In the scenario described above, if the older brother knew he could close the garage door with the exterior keypad while still keeping his younger brother nearby, the accident would never have occurred. As on the inside, the keypad must be at least 5 feet (1.5 m) from the ground.
- Regularly inspect both automatic reverse systems: It is highly recommended to inspect the two automatic reverse systems at least once a month. You can easily do it and it only takes a couple minutes. A full tune-up of your garage door system should be done by you or a technician every 18 months.
- If your garage door doesn’t have a photo-eye reversal system: That means it was manufactured before 1993, so now is the time to change it!
Other situations that can cause significant injuries
- Section joints and fingers
- If you have a manually operated garage door, make it clear to your children to never open or close the garage door by sliding their fingers between the sections. As proof, this type of accident is at the top of the list with over 7600 reported cases every year.
- Lifting cables
- We all know kids are curious. Explain to them that under no circumstances should they place their hands between the vertical tracks and the lifting cables “just to see how it works”!One last important tip: don’t let your garage become cluttered. Place objects and boxes on shelves or storage cabinets. This way everyone can move safely around the garage.
Two absolute no-nos in this video: letting the child enter the code to open the garage door and letting a child out of your sight for even 3 seconds. Watch this video.
If your garage door system has become too dangerous for your family’s safety
You should contact your local GARAGA dealer right away. They will be able to advise you on the most appropriate garage door system for you. As needed, if your current system is in need of a proper tune-up to ensure it is operating correctly, a preventive maintenance program can be discussed.
They can also email you a quotation. If you’d like, visit them at their showroom. Would an idea of what a new garage door looks like be helpful? Then use a design center like the one from Garaga to choose the style of door that suits you best. To see lots of beautiful examples of garage doors, check out their image gallery