By Susan Lasser, J.D.
Children can become trapped between the interior and the exterior doors of a home elevator, resulting in serious injuries or, in some cases, death.
In an alert issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency is warning consumers with home elevators, as well as visitors to homes with elevators, of the need to protect small children from being crushed to death in a possible gap between the elevator doors. The distance between the inner elevator car door or gate and the exterior (or hoistway) elevator access door may be too deep to protect small children, according to the agency. A child could possibly enter and close the exterior (hoistway) door without opening the interior car door and become entrapped between the two doors if the gap is too deep between any exterior door and the farthest point of the inner door, which often is an accordion door. CPSC advises that serious injuries or death can result if a child becomes trapped between the doors and the elevator car moves (CPSC News Release, 19-182, August 8, 2019).
Residential elevators are commonly found in multi-level homes, town homes, vacation homes and rentals, and in large homes that have been converted to inns or bed-and-breakfast hotels. According to CPSC, children, as young as two and as old as 12, have been crushed to death in the gap between the elevator doors, or have sustained multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae, as well as traumatic asphyxia. The agency notes that some children "have suffered horrific and lifelong injuries."
Owners of home elevators or elevators in vacation rentals are advised to make sure that the gap between doors is no more than four inches deep. Home elevator owners who are uncertain of the measurement or are otherwise concerned about the safety of their elevator, should lock the elevator itself in an unusable position, or lock all access doors to the elevator. CPSC has urged consumers to have a qualified elevator inspector examine their home elevator for this dangerous gap and other potential safety hazards, inspecting to the latest ASME A17.1, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. Dangerous gaps can be made safer by placing space guards on the back of the exterior door or by installing an electronic monitoring device that deactivates the elevator when a child is detected in the gap. Furthermore, the agency encourages consumers to contact their elevator manufacturer or an elevator installer to obtain these essential safety devices to address this hazardous condition. Moreover, according to CPSC, elevator installers should never allow any gap greater than four inches deep to exist in an elevator entryway.
The Commission states that it will continue its investigation into the safety of residential elevators, and asks that consumers report any safety incident involving residential elevators at: www.saferproducts.gov.
MainStory: TopStory CPSCNews HouseholdProductsNews
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