Did you know that children can be trapped and killed if the space between the doors of residential elevators is too large?

Last week, a 7-year-old child died in an elevator at a vacation home in North Carolina.

During the covid-19 pandemic, vacation rental homes have become a popular alternative to hotels and motels.

As covid-19 restrictions are lifted, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding travelers of the possible dangers of residential elevators. They were linked to 4,600 injuries and 22 deaths from 1981 to 2019.

A deadly space can exist between the interior elevator door and the exterior door. Children, aged 2 to 16, were crushed to death in this gap. In some cases, children have suffered multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae, traumatic asphyxia and other lifelong injuries.


If the gap is too deep between an exterior door and the farthest point of the car door, which is often an accordion door, a child can enter and close the exterior door without opening the interior car door, and get caught between the two doors, causing serious injury or death when the elevator car is moved.

Residential elevators are found in multi-story homes, townhouses, vacation homes and rentals, and large homes that have been converted to hostels or guesthouses. Elevator installers should never leave a space more than four inches deep in an elevator entrance, advises the CPSC.

How to protect children and bridge the gap

  • Safety conscious consumers of elevators should either lock the elevator in an unusable position or lock all exterior elevator doors.
  • The CPSC urges consumers to have a qualified elevator inspector examine their home elevator for unsafe space and other safety hazards.
  • Dangerous spaces can be eliminated by placing space guards on the back of the exterior door or by installing an electronic monitoring device that deactivates the elevator when a child is detected in the space. Consumers can contact their elevator manufacturer or elevator installer to obtain these safety features.

CPSC action on seasonal rental platforms

On Tuesday, the CPSC called on vacation rental platforms AirBnB, Vrbo and others to take immediate action to protect consumers. He asked rental companies to:

  • Immediately notify all tenants of the potential danger via email or in a warning on their booking or booking pages.
  • Immediately require all members or “hosts” using the platforms to lock exterior access doors or otherwise disable elevators in their properties, until such members provide proof of an inspection, certifying that they are no dangerous deviation exists.
  • Require inspection of elevators from anyone posting an advertisement.

Residential elevator recalls

  • Check www.cpsc.gov for residential elevator recalls. If the elevator has been recalled, contact the company carrying out the recall and get the solution right away.
  • The CPSC has worked with manufacturers to recall residential elevators for various hazards:
    • Residential Elevators Otis Elevator Company, December 17, 2020, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2020/otis-elevator-company-recalls-to-inspect-private-residence-elevators-due-to-entrapment.
    • Cambridge Elevating Home Elevators, March 27, 2019, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Cambridge-Elevating-Recalls-Home-Elevators-Due-to-Fall-Hazard.
    • Waupaca Elevator Residential Elevators, October 25, 2018, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2019/Waupaca-Elevator-Recalls-to-Inspect-Elevators-Due-to-Injury-Hazard.
    • Porta Residential Elevators, August 3, 2016, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2016/Porta-Recalls-Residential-Elevators.
    • Coastal Carolina Residential Elevators, March 19, 2015, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2015/Childs-Catastrophic-Brain-Injury-Prompts-Recall-of-Residential-Elevators.
    • ThyssenKrupp Access Manufacturing Residential Elevators, September 20, 2012, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2012/Residential-Elevators-Recall-for-Repair-by-ThyssenKrupp-Access-Manufacturing-Due-to-Fall-Hazard.

For more information for consumers, see my blog Rita R. Robison Consumer and Personal Finance Journalist.

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