At least 46 children have died in the last eight years because they were struck by automatic garage doors, government safety experts said Monday.
They urged that homeowners replace all garage doors that do not have automatic reverse. The children were killed when closing doors did not reopen automatically, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.
The agency said children's lives could be safeguarded by checking the garage door opener and having it repaired or replaced immediately if the door does not respond to striking an object.
Many garage door units made before 1982 do not have the automatic-reverse feature.
Some older doors have a device intended to cause a closing door to reverse, but, because of wear, poor maintenance or a bad installation, it may not function well enough to prevent a child's death, the commission said.
Homeowners can check for the hazard by placing a two-inch wooden block in the path of the door, the commission said. "If the door does not promptly reverse on striking the block, the unit should be disengaged and a service technician called to see if repairs are needed," it said.
The panel also said that units made after 1982 can be improved by installing an "electric eye" near the floor to cause a closing door to reopen if an object crosses its path.