Garage Door Safety

Consumer Product Safety Alert


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 fingers

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 prevent

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.


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