A garage door is an oft-overlooked part of a home. Some are rarely opened, while others are used on a daily basis. Though they might be overlooked, garage doors play a role in thousands of injuries every year.
Roughly 20,000 people each year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to garage doors, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian hospitals report that roughly 60 percent of all garage door injuries are cut fingers or hands. The majority of injuries happen at a person's own home.
Although children are more susceptible to garage door injuries, these injuries can happen to people of all ages. That is why it is wise for all members of the family to familiarize themselves with how to prevent garage door injuries.
Safety experts from many organizations, including CPSC, estimate the average garage door weighs more than 400 pounds. A door of that weight can break bones and crush adults and children alike. There are many reasons a door can fall, including lost tension, improper installation or a faulty track or springs. A garage door may become faulty if it was hit by an automobile and not mended correctly.
Many different manufacturers have created safety features that can be installed on garage doors to control the speed of descent and also automatically stop a garage door should it be involved in a free fall. There also are features that retract the door should it meet with an obstacle on the ground when the door is closing.
Some children and teenagers think it is entertaining to ride on the garage door when it is automatically being opened. The kids let go before the door reaches the header of the garage. Unfortunately, many children are not as lucky and can become trapped between the garage door and the small space at the ceiling of the garage. Others may have hands or feet become stuck between the folding panel joints of the door, resulting in breaks or amputations.
Children should be advised never to ride on an opening garage door. Some automatic garage door opener manufacturers have begun developing safety systems that shut down the operation of the door if a sensor measures extra weight on the garage door.
Tracks on standard garage doors are frequently made of sharp-edged metal and have numerous open holes in the construction that are tempting for little fingers. Cuts have occurred to both children and adults in and around tracks. Look for garage doors that have rounded-out edges on the track and a closed design that does not enable fingers to be trapped between rolling mechanisms and the garage door track.
Open joints in door
Most standard garage doors are made by fitting several panels together to create a solid door. This allows for the bending motion of the door when it is retracted. Gaps between these panels, called joints, can trap fingers or toes, resulting in anything from pinching to amputations. Shoppers may want to consider a door that guards against open joints with protective features that do not allow finger entry between joints.
Other safety precautions
* Do not leave the garage door partially open. When it is reactivated, it first may travel downward before retracting back upward.
* Test the auto-reversing feature of the garage door monthly by placing a roll of paper towels beneath the door. If the door does not reverse upon contact with the towels, have the door repaired or replaced.
* Make sure that no snow or ice is blocking the door during cold weather. In addition, check for other obstructions that could make the door work incorrectly.
* Do not let young children play in the garage unattended. Not only can a garage door be a hazard, but also carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage is another serious concern.
* Regularly clean the working parts of the garage door to ensure safe operation.
* Do not try to fix garage door problems on your own. Serious injuries can ensue when the torque on springs and other mechanisms are adjusted improperly on high-tension parts. Hire a professional to get the job done right.
* Educate children and other family members of all the dangers associated with garage doors so they will know how to use them safely.