A trade group of security door manufacturers is reiterating a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advisory urging property owners to upgrade outdated automatic security gate systems.

What types of gates are causing the concern? Automated vehicular swinging and sliding gate systems -- such as those found at the property line of some homes, apartment buildings, condo, townhome properties, gated communities and other residential developments. In addition, similar systems at commercial locations.

Older versions of the gates typically don't have sensing or reversing mechanisms to prevent kids and others from becoming entrapped.

Now that the CPSC has advised replacing older gates with those constructed with new, safer standards, property owners could be liable for negligence should a gate entrap and injure someone.

Since 1985, the CPSC has learned of 32 deaths related to automatic gates. Twenty of them were children. CPSC estimates 25,000 people have been involved in automatic gate-related injuries, including 9,000 children younger than 15 years of age from 1990 to 2000. Injuries have included cuts, broken bones, and hematomas (a collection of blood under the skin often caused by blunt, physical trauma), according to the CPSC's advisory, New Safety Standard for Automatic Security Gates Helps Prevent Deaths and Injuries to Children."

The Cleveland, OH-based Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), working with Underwriters Laboratories and CPSC, developed tougher safety standards especially designed to help prevent unaware children from becoming entrapped in automatic security gates.

"We've worked hard to upgrade these safety standards over several years," said Richard Sedivy, chairman of DASMA's operator and electronics division.

"The public needs to be made aware of these new safety requirements. They should have their automatic gate systems professionally evaluated, and outdated systems should be replaced," Sedivy said.

The new standards, similar to those in residential garage doors, require automatic gates to have at least two safety mechanisms that prevent entrapment.

One sensing device reverses the gate if it encounters an obstruction when opening or closing. A secondary sensing mechanism, such as an electric eye, will reverse the gate if it detects an obstruction.

Additional security gate measures are related to installation. They include.

  • Eliminating all gaps of more than 2.25 inches.
  • Installing controls far enough from the gate so users cannot come in contact with the gate while operating the controls.
  • Installing controls so anyone using the controls has full view of the gate's operation.
  • Eliminating pinch points.
  • Installing guarding on exposed rollers.
  • Posting warning signs on each side of the gate.

Sedivy also urged security gate users to read and observe all security gate safety instructions, follow recommended maintenance schedules, and routinely check all safety systems and the gate's movement.

He also said pedestrians should never use an automated gate system that is intended for vehicular access, and they should be clear of the area when these systems are in operation.

"If any safety systems operate improperly, you should discontinue its use and call a trained gate systems technician immediately," he added.

"Children should never operate an automatic gate or play near these systems," Sedivy added.

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