For almost fifteen years now, garage doors have been manufactured and sold with safety features required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These simple, but effective, safety components use a laser photo-eye and a pressure sensor to prevent what used to be all too common injuries and deaths caused by garage door crushing accidents.
While these safety features have dramatically reduced injuries and deaths – a significant number involving children and pets – which used to be caused by garage doors, they have not eliminated garage door injuries entierly. However, by following a few precautions, homeowners and household residents can avoid most all accidents involving a garage door.
Preventing Garage Door Injuries
The most common garage door injuries fall into three categories, together affecting over 10,000 people every year in the U.S. These are accidents involving the absence or malfunction of now required safety features and neglect of other regular maintenance, pinching accidents, and lacerations from broken glass in garage doors.
Statistics on garage door accidents are compiled through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database maintained by CPSC. NEISS gathers statistics from U.S. hospital emergency rooms and categorizes injuries and the consumer products involved in the accident, including injuries caused by garage doors.
The NEISS database reports more than 2,200 people in the U.S. being injured each year by crushing accidents involving a garage door. Only about 100 are due to people – often children – making a dash for it and trying to run under a closing door (always an unwise thing to do.)
The remainder are caused by garage doors which do not have photo-eye or pressure sensing door retractors, or these safety features do not work, or, the door is generally in unsafe repair, resulting in failed hinge springs or disconnecting door panels which fall on someone as the door is opened or closed.
Preventing yourself or someone in your family from becoming one of these statistics only requires a little, regular effort. Each month or so, make a quick visual inspection of the door while it opens and closes, and take corrective measures as soon as you notice any problems such as strange noises, uneven movement of the door from side to side, or failure to open or close completely.
Make sure nothing obstructs the photo-eye sensor, located about six inches from the floor on either side of the door. There should always be a red laser light visible on the sensor on one side of the door, and if it is adjusted correctly with the sensor on the other side, the door will stop closing and reopen when something like a broom is used to break the light beam. The door should also reopen if it touches an object before closing completely.
While crushing accidents involving garage doors are usually more serious, accidents involving pinching and garage doors are much more common. The NEISS report finds over 7,500 people in the U.S. receiving emergency room care each year due to pinching injuries caused by garage doors.
The areas on the garage door where pinching can occur are: In scissor-type spring mechanisms located on the sides of some garage doors; behind the rollers located in the tracks mounted vertically on each side of the door; and more commonly, when fingers get caught between the horizontal, folding panels which are a design feature of many modern garage door styles.
Because of the large weight of a garage door and the enormous pressures of spring loaded lifting mechanisms, a simple pinch in the garage door can easily become a significant accident, as the statistics show. The solution to preventing garage door pinching accidents is keeping small children entirely away from garage doors and openers, educating everyone in the household about garage door safety, and installing a garage door with a pinch-proof design where panels overlap.
Each year there are also about 800 people visiting U.S. hospital emergency rooms for lacerations caused by broken windows in garage doors. Most of these breakages happen in older garage doors which do not have shatter-resistant glass. This accident potential is a good reason for replacing an older garage door that has a window with a newer model.
If you are lucky enough to live in the State of Virginia anywhere from Mechanicsville and Powhatan, to Midlothian and Henrico County, you can reduce the risk of almost any potential garage door injury by using common sense and contacting Commonwealth Garage Door in Chester for installation, repair, and regular garage door servicing.