Consumers with home elevators and people who visit homes where the devices are present are being warned to protect their small children from a deadly gap that may exist between the doors of the elevator. The distance between the inner elevator car door and the room access door on home elevators may be too wide and allow a small child to enter the space and close the room access door without opening the elevator car door. If this happens, the child can be seriously injured or killed when the elevator moves.
At least eight children have been killed and two seriously injured in home elevator entrapments since 1981, according to the Consumer Protection and Safety Commission (CPSC) database and an investigation by the Washington Post.
CPSC Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle issued the warning with support from the Accessibility Equipment Manufacturers Association (AEMA) and the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC).
Residential elevators are commonly found in multi-level homes, townhomes, vacation homes, and rentals, and in large homes that have been converted into inns or bed-and-breakfast hotels. There are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 home elevators in the U.S. The elevators are different from commercial elevators with sliding doors in that they have an outer swing door and an inner accordion gate door.
“CPSC is aware of several tragic incidents in which children became entrapped between the doors leading to death, serious fractures, traumatic asphyxia, and lifelong injuries,” Buerkle said. “We are urging consumers to have a qualified elevator inspector examine their home elevator for this dangerous gap and other potential safety hazards, inspecting to the latest safety standard, ASME A17.1-2016, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators.”
The gaps can be eliminated by placing space guards on the back of the room access door or installing an electronic monitoring device that deactivates the elevator when a child is detected in the gap. Consumers are urged to contact their elevator manufacturer or an elevator installer to obtain a safety device.
Consumers are also encouraged to report any safety incidents involving residential elevators to www.SaferProducts.gov.