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Home garage doors are light and easy to lift—until something goes wrong. If a spring or roller breaks, or your electrical opener malfunctions, you’ll find out for yourself that the garage door is one of the largest moving objects in your home.

That’s according to the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association International (DASMA), which recommends regular maintenance and careful operation to help protect your family and vehicles from serious harm. Here’s a look at their garage door safety recommendations:

Operating Guidelines

Automatic garage doors are so simple to operate—you push a button on the wall or a remote and your device takes care of the rest—that it’s easy to forget basic safety guidelines. Some of the greatest concerns center around children.

  • Stay clear of a moving door. Don’t let children (or adults) stand or run under the door when it’s closing.
  • Watch your fingers. Caution your children against letting their fingers slip between the hinges, springs or sections of the door, especially as it’s moving. This applies to garage doors with and without automatic openers.
  • Guard the remote. Keep the remote control safely out of children’s reach. If you ever park outside, make sure the remote isn’t in view, tempting a thief.
  • See it shut. When you close the door, watch it shut all the way to make sure no person or pet gets caught underneath. And, to ensure it closes all the way so your home is secure.
  • Read the manual. The owner’s manual will alert you to any special features or requirements for your door. It will also provide guidelines for setting and using the safety features that are now standard on garage doors and garage door openers.

Safety Features

Garage doors and garage door openers come with a range of safety features, depending upon when they were purchased. But, even the best safety features are of little help if they are improperly installed or adjusted, or if you don’t know how to use them.

  • Electric eye: Starting in 1993, garage door openers sold in the U.S. include an “external entrapment protection device,” basically an electric eye mounted on the frame that can detect objects in the door’s path, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). These eyes will reverse the closing door if they detect any obstructions. If your opener has one, it’s a good idea to test it from time to time by placing an unimportant object in front of the eye and attempting to close the door.
  • Reverse on contact: Even if they don’t have electric eyes, door openers sold since the early 1980s will reverse automatically if they contact an object—a person or an automobile, for example—while descending. It’s important to verify the sensitivity of this feature; you don’t want to receive a hard smack before the door reverses course. Read your owner’s manual to find out how to test and adjust the feature, as needed.
  • Emergency release: Every garage door opener should also have an emergency release cord dangling from the motor. This disengages the door so that it can be operated manually in case the opening system malfunctions or gets stuck. Everyone in your house should know how to find and operate the release.


Take time regularly to check your door’s operation and hardware.

  • Test: Make sure the safety features work as intended. The wall control button for the door opener should be out of reach of small children, and in a place where the operator can see the door close completely.
  • Inspect: Inspect the springs, cables, rollers, hinges and other hardware on the door itself for wear and corrosion. Some light lubrication as specified in the owner’s manual can smooth the operation. Release the door from the opener to be certain it rolls smoothly and easily. If the door doesn’t operate smoothly after lubrication, or if cables or springs need replacement, call a professional.

A garage door is powerful but sensitive, so be sure to give yours the attention it needs to keep operating smoothly. A little effort can go a long way to protect your family and vehicles from harm. 

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Posted 3:35 AM

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