Home safety: Door dangers

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.

Safety first

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.

Significant force

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.

Preventing injury

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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  3. Safety checks for cots and mattresses
  4. Keeping kids safe in a big bed


  1. gillymama 08/03/2018 at 11:45 am

    This sent shivers up my spine reading about it. We’ve had a few near misses on house doors with little fingers. Recently over the summer my eldest son got his finger shut in the car door whole we were packing up from camping, it was awful and I don’t know how he did it. I’ve had my hand slammed in a car door before so I know how painful it is. Great reminder to have a wee chat with my youngest about it.

  2. Shelz69 28/02/2018 at 11:20 am

    Wow, I have never thought about doors slamming. I am so glad I read this now or I could have easily been one of the Stats. I think car doors but not house ones.

  3. kymmage 26/02/2018 at 12:11 pm

    Oh my goodness my heart is in my throat. How scary would that be! I have accidentally closed a car door on my eldest’s hand. Thankfully not too much force but there was a lot of tears from both of us and the shock of it. Horrific. I am always pretty careful about it because a friend almost lost her finger to a slammed door in our youth. So it was awful to have it almost happen to us.

  4. felicity beets 19/02/2018 at 5:24 pm

    I didn’t realise how many people in NZ injured their fingers in doors!. I always have to watch my toddler around the fridge and he like putting his fingers in the door when the fridge is open.

  5. Bevik1971 14/02/2018 at 4:33 pm

    Gives me the heebee’s when I hear stories like this :(. My son got his finger broken when he was only 1, not by a slamming door but an old sash window came down on his hand. Awful he screamed the house down, off to A&E but they didn’t see a break or fracture at the time so didn’t strap it. Quite some time later he was having issues with it and it looked bent so back off to the Doc only to find he had a fracture that they didn’t pick up, so he now has a bent finger forever.

  6. SarahBlair 13/02/2018 at 3:40 pm

    Kids and doors are scary! My sister slammed my finger in the door when I was little and cut the tip off, I still have a scar!

  7. MuddledUpMolly 12/02/2018 at 1:39 pm

    A great article for us all as a reminder! Our little girl has jammed her own fingers in the cat door and her bedside draw so it’s always important to be mindful of the little places they can get into too.

  8. Alezandra 09/02/2018 at 3:48 pm

    The things we take from granted like the normalcy of opening and closing doors can lead to a more permanent damage. Not just house doors mind you, the car doors too. I have had the unfortunate incident when I opened the door and didn’t see my little 2 on the other side – good thing it didn’t hit him too hard, but there were definitely tears – both mom and son.

  9. Mands1980 09/02/2018 at 10:40 am

    This is one of my biggest fears either slamming of doors on fingers by the kids or the wind shutting doors on fingers we have friends whose daughter lost the tip of one of her fingers because of this I think it is more common that what we hear about. I feel like I am continuously telling them of for slamming doors too.

  10. Kjgee 08/02/2018 at 9:48 am

    I am so anxious with my kids around doors. When I was little my younger sister and I were arguing and the door got slammed and the tip of her finger was cut off on the hinge side. So when it comes to doors and my kids I worry a lot!

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