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Product safety tips

Automatic garage doors

Although it is often the largest and heaviest piece of moving equipment in a home, many consumers do not realize the potentially deadly consequences associated with garage doors.

UL has received reports of children being trapped beneath automatic garage doors that were left in a partially opened position. When stopped in this position, activation of the door operator may result in the door initially traveling in the downward direction, thus increasing pressure on someone trapped beneath the door. Continued or repeated activation of the door, particularly when in a panic state, may not result in the immediate reversal of the door to the open position, particularly if the door operator is not properly maintained.

UL recommends that automatic garage doors be left only in the fully open or fully closed positions and never in a partially open or closed position. Walking or crawling under a partially opened door creates a potential entrapment hazard.

"Garage doors weigh as much as 600 pounds and can cause serious injury or even death if they're not used with care," says Barbara Guthrie, consumer affairs director of UL.

"Although UL Listed residential garage door openers manufactured since 1993 have enhanced anti-entrapment safety features, homeowners should not take safety for granted," Guthrie adds. "If entrapment occurs, remain calm, and call for help from your local fire department."

Consumers should always exercise caution when using automatic garage door operators and follow the safety instructions provided.

Important safety instructions

  • Never let children operate or play with door controls. Keep the remote control away from children.
  • Always keep the moving door in sight and away from people, pets and objects until it is completely closed. No one should cross the path of a moving door.
  • Test the door operator monthly. The garage door must reverse on contact with a 1 1/2 inch high object (or a piece of two-by-four lumber laid flat) on the floor. If the door doesn't stop and reverse after contact with the object, disconnect the operator and use the door manually until the operator is replaced or repaired by a qualified technician.
  • The emergency release is only intended to be used when the door is closed. Use extreme caution when using this release with the door open. Weak or broken springs are capable of increasing the rate of door closure and increasing the risk of severe injury or death.
  • Keep garage doors properly balanced. An improperly balanced door increases the risk of severe injury or death. Have a qualified service technician make the necessary repairs to cables, spring assemblies, and other hardware.