June is Garage Door Safety Month
It’s easy to take our garage door for granted, as a basic convenience that we use constantly, especially in the summer. According to authorities, 70 % of us use our garage door as the primary entrance to our home, using it as a handy, sheltered “front door.”
It’s important to remember, however, that garage doors — especially those with automatic garage door openers — are large, heavy, potentially-dangerous mechanisms that need regular check-ups, maintenance and upkeep to keep them operating safely and smoothly.
June is the perfect time for having a complete, thorough inspection of all the various parts of your door’s mechanisms, lubricating parts as needed for proper functioning in hot summer weather, adjusting alignment as indicated, and repairing or replacing worn or damaged parts such as hinges, door springs, cables, rollers, door seals, and torsion spring conversions. For optimal safety it is recommended that you engage a professional garage door maintenance service to conduct this important annual check-up and tune-up, even if you choose to do routine monthly upkeep yourself.
There are other things that you can (and should) do to prevent dangerous accidents involving your garage door. Keep in mind that, like most mechanical conveniences, garage doors can be hazardous, especially for children, as well as for some physically-challenged folks and even cats and dogs. In 2007, according to a report published on Garage Door Safety.com, accidents involving garage doors lead to more than thirteen thousand injuries that were sufficiently serious to require medical care.
Some injuries are caused by mechanical failure or lack of necessary maintenance — which is why that annual check-up is so important — but the majority of dangerous accidents are preventable by taking a few basic precautions.
Here are some simple safety measures that you can take to avoid garage door injuries:
- Double-check to make sure that you know where your garage door’s emergency release knob or handle is, and make sure you understand how to use it. All of the adults in your household — as well as older, responsible children — should have this information too. Add this to your list of regular “safety drills” when you check your smoke alarms and review emergency plans. Knowing how to use the emergency release can be essential if one needs to rescue a person or an animal that is caught in your garage door.
- Take extra care to prepare for children, even if there are no youngsters living in your home. You never know when you might have a young visitor — perhaps a neighbor’s child looking for a lost kitten — and an ounce of prevention can protect against a ton of misery. If you have a manual key pad on your garage, make sure it’s mounted high enough to be out of reach of small hands. And don’t ever let children play with the remote control for the garage door. An automatic door may seem magical and fun to a child, but you must emphasize to them that the door is not a plaything and that it must be handled carefully and responsibly. In addition, take the time to point out any places in the door mechanism or framework where little fingers might get pinched. The most frequent garage door injuries mentioned in the safety study mentioned above involved fingers being damaged and even amputated. Special care should be taken with segmented doors.
- Check to make sure your automatic emergency reverse feature is working. All garage door openers manufactured since 1993 are required to have this feature that that stops and reverses the door’s action if it senses an object in the path when it is closing. It’s worth checking this once a month by simply opening the door, placing an expendable object like an old cardboard box under it, then closing the door. The moment the door touches the object it should stop and reverse itself. If the emergency reverse does not work correctly, the door should be repaired immediately, for safety’s sake.
- Don’t leave your garage door standing part-way open. It may be tempting to just open it half-way to let your garage air out or whatever, but — even with the safeguard of an emergency reverse — when the opener is activated, a door that is poised half-open may slam down, crushing anyone or anything in the way.
Taking these simple safety precautions — along with making sure your garage door has its annual check-up and tune-up — will help ensure that you can enjoy the convenience and comfort of a smoothly functioning door while keeping everyone secure from mishaps. Have a happy Garage Door Safety Month!