In the last twenty years, 68 children have been killed by garage doors with automatic openers and countless others injured, according to an article published by the Modesto Bee last year. In 1982, the door operators and remote control industry received their voluntary safety guidelines resulting with most manufacturers providing openers that automatically reverse upon encountering an obstruction.
Between 1982 and 1989, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 44 children have been killed under automatic garage doors. Many others have suffered brain damage or other serious injury.
A March 16, 1990, CPSC news release advised parents to disconnect and replace any garage door opener that does not automatically reverse upon impact.
Even doors with this safety device can fail due to improper adjustment or poor maintenance.
Before this year, no federal or state regulations existed governing the sale of residential garage door openers. Legislation in California (AB 3600, introduced by Assemblyman Polanco was approved by the governor on September 25, 1990, to go into effect January 1, 1991.
From that date forward in California no residential garage door opener can be sold, manufactured or installed in a single-family or multifamily dwelling without an automatic reverse safety device which complies with standards set forth by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The law further requires that manufacturers of residential garage door openers clearly identify the date of manufacture and its compliance with the specified standards. Sellers of residential garage door openers must include a complete set of installation, operation, maintenance and testing instructions and installers must comply with the instructions.
Violations of the sale and/or servicing or repair provisions carry a civil penalty of $500 per opener. Violations of the requirements regarding the manufacture or installation are subject to a $1,000 fine per opener. After July 1, 1991, sellers of real property must disclose on the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement that a garage door opener may not be in compliance with the required safety standards. Violations of this requirement carry a $500 penalty.
Because of the possibility of failure of the automatic reverse safety device required as of January 1, 1991, the law goes one step further. As of January 1, 1993, all automatic garage door openers must be equipped with a tactile garage door edge sensor, an optical sensor or a similar device that, when activated, is designed to cause a closing door to open and to prevent an open door from closing.
Additionally, after January 1, 1993, the law requires service personnel, upon completion of service or repair, to determine whether the automatic garage door opener reverses upon contact with a rigid two-inch high object placed on the surface beneath the garage door. If the opener fails this test, the person must conspicuously affix to the opener a red certificate that explains in specified language that door did not reverse when it met the obstruction.
A garage door opener may be tested as follows:
- Place a two-inch block of wood in the path of the descending door.
- Check to see if the door reverses within two seconds.
- If it does not, disconnect the door and consult a professional door opener
Additional safety tips to keep in mind:
- Never buy an opener that does not meet current UL standards.
- Never operate a poorly maintained or improperly adjusted door.
- Locate the switch above the reach of a child.
- Never allow children to operate the device. Keep the remote control away from children
- Keep the door in sight until it closes.