As parents we always strive to keep our kids safe from harm. Baby-proofing the home requires a keen eye for potential dangers. But have you considered the danger posed by your home’s doors?
The below article was written by Nicolas Hopkins.
We lived on a gentle lifestyle block with no large animals, no dangerous dogs, and sturdy, safe fences. It was the perfect, safe setting for my oldest, and at the time, only daughter to enjoy her early years. On this particular day, we had come home with the groceries. I let her play in the warming spring sun while I unloaded the groceries. The breeze danced through the house and the front door slammed closed. Irritated but not too bothered, I headed over to open it back up.
That’s when I heard it. A bone chilling scream on the other side of the door! Two quick strides and I was there. Face crumpled, tears streaming down, the apple of my eye stood there, apparently unhurt but very upset. I swept her into my arms and only then did I notice her hand. Four fingers were white and flattened. A red line on either side of the fingers marked where the door frame ended abruptly. Her hand was crushed. My heart was crushed. Without a further thought, we were on our way to the emergency room.
Injuries caused by doors
What I didn’t know at the time, is that this scene is all too common. In 2016 doors injured more than 14,000 people; over 9,000 were injured in their home. ACC paid out more than $6 million for these new claims while handling over $13.8 million in ongoing claims for an additional 40,000 injuries. (1)
How many parents think about the danger posed by doors? I didn’t. Fortunately, my lack of awareness didn’t cause my daughter any permanent damage. She was unable to use her hand for a week, but eventually things returned to normal for her. Other children are not so lucky.
Finger injuries from doors range from a slight pinch, to a crushed finger, to complete amputation of the digits, either at the place of the accident or by the surgeon. Old fashioned wooden framed doors are heavy and close with significant force. A report from West Bend Mutual Insurance states that the closing force on the hinged side of a door is upwards of 40 tons per square inch – an immense crushing force (2). Aluminium framed doors tend to be slightly lighter weight but have sharper edges resulting in less crushing but more amputations. I met two families, over one weekend, who saved their toddlers’ fingers by putting them in a plastic bag with ice before leaving for the emergency room. This is the stuff of nightmares or horror movies.
The first step to preventing injury is being aware of the danger. Educating parents and children of this significant hazard in their house goes a long way to preventing injuries. The second step is implementing a culture of safety, utilizing products that mitigate risk in dangerous situations. Help us bring greater awareness to the dangers of doors. Share this article. Talk to your school and day care staff so they understand the danger. Talk to your kids if they are old enough to understand. And keep yourself safe. Even though most hand-in-door injuries affect children, adults are still at risk.
Unfortunately, by definition, accidents are unplanned events that happen with or without awareness of the dangers involved. Safety devices assist in mitigating risks when awareness is not enough. Research available safety products and get safety products in place. Most of these injuries are preventable. With proper safety guards, a serious accident is reduced to a minor first aid situation.
Kidspot’s tips for door safety around the home
- Do not allow children to play with or around doors
- Always check that your child’s hands are away from the door before closing it
- Teach your child to close doors gently and to keep fingers away from the hinge and door jamb – hands on the handle!
- If you want to keep a door open for a length of time, use a hook and eye latch
- Ensure that glass in doors meets NZ safety standards
- Apply a vinyl transfer at eye level on large glass sliding doors to help people see that they are closed
- Consider installing anti-slam safety products
This article was provided by Nicolas Hopkins from SoftSlam with editing by Kidspot NZ. Nicolas is a joiner/carpenter by trade. He has an ongoing passion for door safety in homes and schools because of his daughter’s experience. SoftSlam is a revolutionary invention that reduces the danger of a slamming door; preventing noisy and dangerous slamming doors and the injuries from slamming. It can be customized to fit any slamming doors and allows the door to close softly and gently – no more waking the baby or pinched/crushed fingers!
(1) 40810 Pinched and Crushed Injuries, Strategic Intelligence and Analysis Injury Prevention and Insurance Products; Auren Xu, Business Analyst
(2) Door-Related Finger Injuries, West Bend on-line article
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