More than 100,000 home elevators have been recalled in the past two years because they pose a deadly risk to children.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said it is aware of 41 deaths associated with elevators between 2018 and 2021.
One of those deaths was a 7-year-old boy from Ohio who was at a vacation home in North Carolina with his family. CPSC said it will be working with the vacation rental industry to keep consumers safe.
The problem is that many home elevators have a dangerous gap between the elevator car’s inner accordion-style door and the exterior door (which typically looks like another door in the house).
If the gap is more than a few inches wide, a child can get trapped between the doors. When the elevator car moves to another floor, the child can be crushed, seriously injured, or killed by the cab.
The hazard is easy to repair by installing a gap guard, which is an inexpensive piece of plastic that fits on the backside of the exterior door to fill the gap.
Last year, a 7-year-old boy from Ohio was tragically crushed to death by an elevator that was made by Custom Elevator at a vacation home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Another major elevator company, ThyssenKrupp Access Corp., also agreed to settle a lawsuit with the CPSC after a 2-year-old child died and a 3-year-old child was severely disabled.
Other recalls have been announced by Residential Elevator, Inclinator, Savaria, Bella, and Otis Elevator.
Just one company, Waupaca, has refused to issue a recall — even after a 4-year-old child was “found dangling in the elevator shaft, upside down, with his foot lodged between the elevator car and the elevator shaft on the third floor. The child suffered physical scarring and permanent vision loss as a result of the incident,” CPSC said.
Until these home elevators can be inspected and repaired with a gap guard installation, homeowners and renters should lock the elevator, or the exterior doors, to prevent children from being injured or killed.