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. She was the love of my life, the reason for everything I did. On this particular day, we’d 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 white and flattened. A red line on either side 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.
What I didn’t know it at the time, this scene is all too common. In 2016 more than, 14,000 people were injured by doors, over 9,000 were injured by doors 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 know that doors are dangerous? 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 can 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 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. Today’s doors are getting lighter in construction but wider to accommodate wheel chairs which results in more serious injuries due to the crow bar like action of the wider door.
The first step to preventing injury is to become aware of the danger. Educating parents and children of this significant hazard in their house will go a long way in preventing injuries. The second step is to implement a culture of safety utilizing products that mitigate risk in dangerous situations. Help us bring greater awareness to the dangers of doors, share your story on facebook at the “Safe Doors for Kids and Adults” open group. Share this article. Talk to your school and day care staff so they understand the dangers. 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 devised can assist in mitigating risks when awareness is not enough. Research available safety products. GET THESE SAFEY PRODUCTS IN PLACE! Most of these injuries are preventable. With proper safety guards, a serious accident is reduced to a minor first aid situation.