Most people wouldn’t overlook a 300-pound football linebacker or a 400-pound boulder coming their way. For some reason, a garage door, which is also typically 300 to 400 pounds, opening and closing usually isn’t given a second thought. While this object may seem benign, it’s often the heaviest moving feature of your home and should be a safety concern area.
The majority of garage door-related injuries involve pets and young children that are oblivious to the potential dangers presented by such a heavy moving object. Children can easily get an extremity caught between the ground and the bottom of the garage door as it descends to a close. To avoid such a catastrophe, garage door owners should pay attention to three areas – educating children, safety precautions, and maintenance.
Garage door owners should make sure young children are clear of the garage door before it closes. Children should be taught never to run under a moving garage door and to never play near it, even when it’s not in motion. Children should be taught the emergency response, including how to reach an adult and call for emergency assistance, should an accident occur. Older children should be taught how to correctly operate the garage door and use its’ emergency release.
Garage door owners should also make sure that they are taking the appropriate safety precautions to avoid a garage door accident. Make sure to position the operating push buttons five feet or higher from the floor when it’s installed, as this will help prevent small children from playing with the buttons or inadvertently pushing it. Garage doors manufactured since 1993 have been subject to a federal law requiring all garage door openers to contain an automatic reversing mechanism that will immediately reverse the closing if the garage door comes into contact with anything as it’s closing. You might consider upgrading your garage door if it was manufactured prior to this law. You can check your garage door by placing an unbreakable item, such as a piece of wood, under it to determine if it reverses as it comes into contact with the item. Do try to perform this test away from the watchful eyes of children that might think of it as a new game to play.
Garage doors should be regularly inspected for any problem areas that could create a malfunction – worn or warped tracks, rollers, cables, pulleys, and springs. Worn springs are a particularly dangerous problem since they could dislodge and go through the air to strike someone with great force. This is not a DIY area; always consult a professional for maintenance.
With the right education and use, preventative measures, and maintenance, a garage door can be a convenience and a protective feature of your home, not a disaster waiting to happen.