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Kid Safety and Your Automatic Garage Door: Tips for Parents

In many households, the garage door is the largest and heaviest movable part of the entire home. Many decades ago, the size and weight of garage doors made them a hazard in households with children. To protect children from injury, the United States Congress passed garage door safety legislation in the early 1990s.  Garage door entrapment protection requirements became law in January of 1993. These requirements required all garage doors manufactured in the United States to include special safety features that prevent children from becoming trapped beneath them. 

These safety requirements are still in effect today. As a homeowner and parent, it’s important to test these features regularly, to have your garage door serviced if the safety features are not functioning and to teach your children about garage door safety.

Test the Photo Eye Quarterly

All garage doors come with a pair of photo eye sensors, located near the floor of the garage. When the system is operational, one photo eye sensor will direct an invisible beam across the length of the door to the other photo eye sensor. The garage door can only close if the beam is unbroken.

If an object is in the way of the invisible beam, the garage door will not move. If an object breaks the invisible beam while the garage door is closing, the door should reverse course and return to an open position.

Sometimes a photo eye sensor can become dirty or misaligned, which can cause the system to stop working properly. Luckily, this is an easy system to test. 

To test this function, start with the garage door in an open position, then do the following: 

  1. Push the button to start the garage door descent.
  2. Wave a broom or shovel in the path of the garage door.

When the broom or shovel is waved in front of the photo electric eye, the garage door should reverse course and return to a fully open position. If the garage door continues its descent, this is an indication that the photo eye is not functioning properly.

You can troubleshoot this problem by locating each sensor near the base of the garage door and using a clean microfiber cloth to clean the sensors. After cleaning the sensors, repeat the safety test. If the photo eye sensors still fail the test, contact a garage door repair company. 

Test the Automatic Reverse Function Quarterly

The automatic reverse function is a safety feature that is designed to protect any object, pet or person laying in the path of the garage door. To test the automatic reverse function, open your garage door, then follow the procedure below:

  1. Lay a brick or a 2×4 board in the opening of the doorway. Position the object so that it is in the direct path of the door.
  2. Push the button to close the door.

When the door encounters the object, it should reverse course and return to an open position. If the door does not reverse course, this is an indication that the automatic reverse function is not working properly. Contact a garage door repair professional for help resolving this issue.

Replace Your Older Garage Door If the Features Are Not Included

Garage doors that are so old that they do not have these safety features can pose a danger to young children. Homeowners with very old garage doors should contact a garage door installation company to get a quote for a new door. 

Get Annual Tune-Ups

Garage doors need regular tune-ups to avoid problems. To ensure that your garage door is working optimally, contact a garage door repair person to get a tune-up once per year. 

Teach Your Kids Garage Door Safety

While it’s important to have a garage door with functioning safety features, it’s also important to teach your kids responsible garage door use. The following are some tips for helping your children stay safe around garage doors. 

  • Establish clear household rules for safe garage door use 
  • Do not allow children to play in the path of the garage door 
  • Do not allow children to play with the garage door wall controls or remote controls

Parents of young children can avoid problems by keeping the garage door remote controls out of their children’s reach. As soon as the children are old enough to follow directions, teaching them not to touch the remote controls can help prevent accidents. These same rules can be shared with caregivers such as baby sitters and other family members to ensure consistency and to keep the rules clear.

Work With a Knowledgeable Garage Door Repair Company

Working with a knowledgeable, reputable garage door repair company can help ensure that your garage door will be safe for your children and other members of your household. Raynor Door Company in Northfield, IL, can answer homeowners’ questions about garage door safety. To find out more about how you can help keep your garage door safe for your kids, call Raynor Door Company today at 847-441-6900.

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