June is National Garage Safety Month in the United States. Your garage door may be the most common way you enter and exit your home, so keeping you and your family safe around something you use constantly is worth celebrating!
1. Playing around the garage door
Movement can sometimes be too appealing to resist—but with a garage door, it’s a tremendous danger to children. Even when safety equipment is in place (for example, sensors to prevent crush injuries), playing around a garage door and its track or other hardware should simply be a “no.” Educate your kids that it’s not safe is just not something they should do.
In addition to directly playing with the door, remember that obstructions like bikes, sporting equipment, and other recreational gear can add to the danger. Keep the door area and driveway clear of anything that could be run over or cause a person to be in the drive while the door or a vehicle are moving.
2. Getting trapped in the door or its hardware
Keeping kids from playing with your automatic garage door can help prevent a lot of accidental injuries, but it’s just as important that you use caution around the door yourself.
Periodically check your door’s sensors to make sure they stop the door (which they’re supposed to) if an object is in its path. Malfunction, misalignment, and even odd sun angles can interrupt the ability of the sensor to carry out its duty—and that can spell disaster. Make sure it is always working properly. And if you have an older home that has an automatic door but no sensors, have them installed right away—for your safety, and the safety of any family members or guests.
The tracks and rollers pose a danger (to fingers especially) while in motion, so whether it’s children near the door and track hardware as it opens, or you examining the condition of the track and rollers (or troubleshooting) while in motion, keep hands and fingers clear—as well as loose clothing, hair, etc.
3. Broken doors or hardware
The number of moving parts in a garage door system ensures that at some point there will be something that is broken. Torsion springs, tracks, rollers, garage door panels, windows, automatic opener—there are a number of items to maintain. The most important thing you can do as a homeowner is to just generally keep an eye on the condition of the various parts of your system. Parts may fail intermittently, progressively, or seemingly all at once (sort of like “Murphy’s Law”). But whether you repair parts yourself or call a professional, you should regularly inspect the condition of the whole system so that you are safe as you work around all the equipment, and are as aware as possible when one element is due for replacement.
4. DIY dangers
Moving parts pose pinch injuries, but a number of the parts of a garage door system can be dangerous for do-it-yourselfers. If you are an experienced handyperson, you may do well with addressing wear or damage to door panels, the automatic opener, window replacement, and the like. But extra care should be taken with broken windows, bent tracks, and especially broken torsion springs or anything else that disables the ability to open the door. Garage doors weigh hundreds of pounds. When the automatic opener is disabled, one person can open the door readily as long as the torsion spring is in place. However, a broken torsion spring can’t lift any weight—and most people then can’t lift all the weight of the door either. Additionally, replacing the spring requires specialized tools and can be very dangerous due to the high tension. So choose carefully what garage door projects are DIY-friendly, versus which ones are best left to the pros.
Sometimes it’s easy to take your garage door for granted—but it’s probably your most-used door, and most obvious when it’s “under the weather.” Keeping your door in good condition while keeping your family and friends safe is a valuable and important endeavor—definitely worth keeping in mind during Garage Door Safety Month!