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Child's death leads consumer safety commission to ask vacation rental platforms to disable home elevators for guests

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sent a letter to companies like AirBnB and Vrbo recently after the death of a 7-year-old in North Carolina.

WASHINGTON — A national consumer safety commission urged vacation rental platforms to require owners to disable home elevators for guests staying at rentable homes after the recent death of a 7-year-old in North Carolina.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Robert Adler specifically targeted online vacation rental platforms, like Airbnb, Vrbo and others, to take steps that could make these homes with elevators safer.

“The agency is taking steps with the manufacturers, but we need the businesses that facilitate vacation rentals to join us,” said Adler. “These injuries and deaths are horrific, and we need property owners and rental agencies to disable elevators immediately until they have been inspected.”

Residential elevators pose a hidden and deadly hazard: small children can be crushed to death in a gap that may exist between the doors, said CPSC.

If the gap between any exterior (i.e., hoistway) door, and the farthest point of the inner door (which is often an accordion door) is too deep, a child can reportedly enter and close the hoistway door without opening the interior car door, and become entrapped between the two doors, resulting in serious injuries or death when the elevator car moves. Children, some as young as two, and as old as 12, have been crushed to death in this gap, suffering multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia, added CPSC.

RELATED: 7-year-old Ohio boy who died in North Carolina home elevator accident identified

For more safety information, see CPSC’s safety education messages on residential elevators:

RELATED: DC woman dies after being trapped underneath home elevator, officials say

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