Safety agency urges vacation rental platforms to require owners to disable residential elevators until they can be inspected
After another death of a young child in a residential elevator, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Tuesday asked vacation rental platforms, AirBnB, Vrbo, and others, to take steps immediately to protect consumers.
“The agency is taking steps with the manufacturers, but we need the businesses that facilitate vacation rentals to join us,” Acting Chairman Robert Adler said. “These injuries and deaths are horrific, and we need property owners and rental agencies to disable elevators immediately until they have been inspected.”
Small children can be crushed to death in a gap that may exist between the doors.
If the gap between the exterior door, and the farthest point of the inner door – which is often an accordion door – is too deep, a child can enter and close the exterior door without opening the interior door. The child can be trapped between the two doors, resulting in serious injuries or death when the elevator car moves.
Children, ages 2 to 12, have been crushed to death in this gap, suffering multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae, and traumatic asphyxia, Adler said. Other children have suffered devastating and lifelong injuries.
Last week, a 7-year-old child was reported to have died in a vacation home elevator in North Carolina.
The letter is the first time the agency has publicly called on vacation rental businesses to take immediate action, he said. It asks rental companies to:
- Notify all renters immediately about the potential hazard by email, or in a warning box on their reservation or booking pages.
- Immediately require all members or “hosts” using the platforms to lock outer access doors or otherwise disable the elevators in their properties, until those members provide proof of an inspection, certifying that no hazardous gap exists.
- Require elevator inspections of anyone posting a listing.
CPSC has issued warnings, recalls, and a lawsuit on residential elevators:
- CPSC Sues thyssenkrupp Access Corp., July 7, 2021 – CPSC Sues thyssenkrupp Access Corp. Over Deadly Gap Hazard in Residential Elevators; Action Prompted by Three Incidents: One Child Died, Another Permanently Disabled, and a Third Hospitalized After Becoming Entrapped | CPSC.gov
- Otis Elevator Company Residential Elevators, 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 Home 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-Recalled-for-Repair-by-ThyssenKrupp-Access-Manufacturing-Due-to-Fall-Hazard.
For more information, see CPSC’s safety articles on residential elevators:
- Vacation Rental Homes Can Pose a Deadly Hazard – Kids Can Be Crushed to Death in Dangerous Home Elevator Gaps | CPSC.gov
- As Family Vacations Resume, CPSC Warns of Safety Hazards in Vacation Rental Homes | CPSC.gov
Adler said the CPSC will continue its investigation into the safety of residential elevators, and it advises consumers to report any safety incident involving residential elevators at www.SaferProducts.gov.