(February 14 2003) What do tennis great Martina Navratilova, Canadian rock guitarist Peter McKenna and New York Mets pitcher Satoru Komiyama have in common? They've all felt the bite of their garage door.
Getting hurt using the garage door is more common than once thought. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates thousands of injuries a year related to garage door use. The injuries range from severed fingers and joints to severe bruises and cuts.
Martina Navratilova, top, Peter McKenna, top right, and Satoru Komiyama, bottom right, have all learned the perils of operating a garage door first hand.
Navratilova, for example, broke a finger on her right hand in a garage door on Christmas Eve of 1989 at her Aspen, Colorado home. A Los Angeles Times account of the accident said the tennis star felt lucky because she is left-handed and the injury did not endanger her career on the court. "I'm going 40 or 50 miles per hour down the mountain in Aspen (skiing) and I break my finger on a garage door," she said. During her 21-year career, she won 19 majors and 167 singles titles overall.
Other celebrities weren't as lucky.
McKenna, lead guitarist for the rock group Slidewinder, caught his finger in a garage door at his Toronto home in March of 1997. Doctors were able to reattach his fingertip, but it took months of reconstructive surgery and occupational therapy, and a change in the way he played before he was able to strum a guitar again.
"It's still a little wonky. But it's just a matter of time," McKenna told a Toronto news organization.
The situation was similar for Komiyama, who caught his right middle finger in his garage door. A newspaper report of the accident claimed that the Japanese player said he had trouble with his "garage door system."
The incident occurred on April 15, 2002 and resulted in a lacerated right middle finger for Komiyama, who was on the major league roster at the time. After treatment for the injury, he attempted to warm up in the bullpen the next day, only to have the cut on his hand open up. The right-handed pitcher was then sent to the minor leagues to try and rehabilitate his injured finger and career. He spent almost three months in the minors before being recalled to the major league roster.
Emergency Room Visits
There are thousands of emergency room visits a year dealing with garage door accidents---more than snow blower and lawn mower incidents combined, according to the CPSC. A recent estimate for the CPSC says there were 17,691 accidents related directly to garage door use in 2001 and another 2,730 accidents associated with the garage door opener in the same year. Some of the accidents result in finger amputations, fractures or avulsions.
The garage door is usually the largest moving object in a home. The technology utilized by many manufacturers is the same utilized before the advent of the garage door opener. There are a number of entrapment points, including gaps between section joints where a finger can easily be lacerated or severed when put in the opening. Homeowners use electronic devices to operate their garage door. When these devices fail, the homeowner must open and close their door manually. This is when many serious injuries may occur.
One manufacturer insists that tighter industry standards are needed to protect the public. Martin Door Manufacturing® of Salt Lake City, Utah initiated new standards in the manufacture of its doors in 1996----resulting in new safeguards on both the front and the back of a garage door. Not a single injury has been reported involving the newly designed garage door since 1996, according to Dave Martin, chief executive officer for the manufacturer.
Martin has eliminated most all entrapment points for a child, or adult's, hands including holes in the track, the area behind the track, roller shields and rolled track edges and more.