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Garage door safety precautions

Garage Door Safety – Protecting Your Vehicle…and Your Life!

Your garage door – well, it’s just kind of there, isn’t it? It goes up when you press the button and goes down when you press the button. You go in. You go out. You probably just take it for granted, don’t you? But there’s one thing you really need to be aware of – garage door safety.

Garage door openers were convenient, but dangerous!

The invention of garage door openers were very welcome, especially in the regions that had regular inclement weather. Having to get in and out of your car, in driving wind, rain or snow, was a pain, especially if you had a family, with small children.

So being able to open your garage door automatically as you approached it was quite a luxury. And everyone jumped on the automatic garage door opener bandwagon.

But the novelty of seeing a garage door go up and down all by itself fascinated small children. And with that childlike curiosity, they had to explore. But many explorations ended in tragedy. The garage doors could close with enough force to crush a child.

Some sad statistics alert the government to garage door safety

In the United States, in the 21 years between 1974 and 1995, at least 85 children died or suffered permanent brain damage in accidents involving automatic garage door openers. Now some of you may think, “Well, that’s only 4 children a year – that’s not too bad.”

Well, what if one of those children were yours! That would certainly put a new look on the situation, wouldn’t it? If only those injuries and deaths could have been avoided.

And that’s exactly what the consumer safety commission (CPSC) thought. So, in 1993, they passed a law that required all garage door manufacturers to equip their garage doors with photoelectric sensors, and pressure-sensitive sensors.

Garage door sensors relieve the problem – but not completely

The installation of sensors on all garage doors stopped the doors from closing if they came up against an obstruction. As soon as they hit anything, they’d immediately stop and reverse their direction.

The photoelectric sensors consisted of electric eyes mounted on the door jambs, six inches up from the ground. If anything crossed the path of the electric eye, the door would stop and reverse.

The pressure-sensitive sensors were mounted on the bottom edge of the garage door. If they pressed up against anything as the door closed, they, again, would stop and reverse.

So you’d think that the problem was solved. As long as the sensors worked properly, nobody could get hurt. But that wasn’t the case – many of them didn’t work.

The CPSC tested 50 garage door openers, and found only 40% of them to work efficiently. Some of those that didn’t reverse the garage door, pushed down with 130 pounds of pressure, enough to break the bones of a small child.

So that’s why you can’t take garage door safety for granted. Safety features are great, but only if they work properly.

Fortunately, garage door sensors have been greatly improved and, now, injuries are much less frequent. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful when small children are around a garage door as it opens and closes.

Garage doors are safe, as long as they’re in proper working order

Just like the garage door sensor, it doesn’t matter if something’s there, unless it’s working properly. And how do you know if it’s working properly? You have to check it. Again, don’t take these things for granted. They need to be checked regularly to make sure they’re completely operational and safe.

You need to do a regular check of the complete counterbalance system, including the cables, the springs, and the hardware. You also need to inspect and lubricate all the hinges, brackets and rollers. When you’ve done that, you need to test the reversing sensors.

If you don’t have enough knowledge of the mechanisms, then consult your owner’s manual. And if you still don’t understand what to check, call a professional garage door installer. It’ll cost you a bit of money, but it’s worth it. After all, we’re talking about your family’s safety and well-being here, right?

Garage door openers need to be safe, too

There are a number of things you can do with your garage door opener to ensure your safety. Here are a few:

  • If you’re going to be away from your house for an extended period of time, unplug your garage door opener. Some of the newer openers have security switches you can just turn off.
  • Look for a garage door opener that automatically changes security codes every time you use it. That’s called a rolling access code – ask for it! If you continually use the same code, thieves have ways of stealing it, and they’ll be able to access your house through your garage.
  • Think of the remote control for your garage door opener as your house key. Don’t leave it in the vehicle, or you could get your car and your house contents stolen.
  • If you have a wall control panel for your garage door opener, make sure it’s mounted more than 5 feet above the floor, out of reach of children.
  • Teach your children the dangers of garage doors and garage door openers.

Torsion springs can be very dangerous – even fatal!

Torsion springs are the springs that take the weight of your garage door (which could be up to about 400 pounds), and distribute it evenly throughout the system. When these springs are wound up, they hold a tremendous amount of tension.

If a torsion spring released, it could lash out with enough force to kill you! If you don’t know what you’re doing, and even if you do, it’s highly recommended that torsion spring installation and adjustments be left up to a professional garage door installer.

This isn’t an issue to be taken lightly. People have been killed by torsion springs because they tried to be a do-it-yourselfer. It’s not worth it – call a professional!

Don’t take garage door safety for granted

Garage doors are the largest moving part in your home. They need to be respected.

And garage doors have enough force to injure someone. Don’t let that someone be a member of your family. Follow the garage safety guidelines set out here. Every garage door sold comes with safety instructions. Follow them religiously!

Maintain your garage door regularly. And even then, you should call a professional at least once every year to have it fully inspected and serviced.

Garage door serve a wonderful purpose in our lives. And like anything else, if you don’t abuse them, they’ll give you many years of safe and efficient operation.

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