If a home were a book, an electric garage door would be a quiet and insignificant character – barely noticed day to day as it obediently responds to demands.
This might be the case in most homes, but not one in which both a teenager and a senior citizen are learning to drive at the same time. In this case, an electric garage door can become an object to outfox for the youngster and a source of trepidation for the “oldster” – and an object for both to misjudge and miscalculate.
Life has rarely been routine since my daughter and mother decided it would be “cool” to go through driver’s education together. As they bond over studying the rules of the road – and I add up the damage to my garage door from their assorted mishaps – I’ve laid down what might be called the “Rules of the Garage.”
Some of these safety tips are born from experience; others were provided by one of the few garage door companies that care about its customers’ safety. Collectively, they have become a new family mantra, recited quickly before one of them – the main characters in our daily family drama – even thinks about grabbing the car keys:
- Ensure the outdoor garage lights are on at night – and if they’re not, proceed oh-so-slowly up the driveway. Leaving the lights on often requires a planned family effort, but it’s worth it, especially if you have a dark-colored door that can appear to be open at night.
- Wait until the door is fully open before pulling in the garage or pulling out of it. It’s easy to misjudge the height of a vehicle, especially when you’re in a hurry. And the second or two you think you’re saving before the door is fully open is not worth the ensuing cost of damage to the vehicle – and the higher car insurance premium that can follow.
- Always look back twice when pulling out of the garage. Even before shifting the car into reverse, look behind you. Then look again to ensure that the door has fully opened before proceeding.
- Purchase a garage door with a motion sensor. Here is a lesson many homeowners learn the hard way – with or without new drivers in the house. Like a watchful mother/daughter, a sensor detects trouble; it senses movement around the door and rolls it right back up to prevent an accident.
- Consider painting the inner door a light, reflective or even a slightly fluorescent color. Here is another lesson straight out of the School of Hard Knocks. If you’re resistant to the idea, try to remember that no one will see the offbeat color except the people who routinely pull a car out of the garage. You might be sold on the idea when you see how brake lights illuminate the door, providing an extra degree of safety.
- Keep fingers and gadgets away from the cables, pulleys and springs on a garage door. What appears to be an “easy fix” can belie a more complicated repair, which should be left to the professionals who have the proper tools – and expertise.
- Purchase a sturdy door for your garage. This quiet and insignificant character has a funny way of taking center stage, pointing up the wisdom in investing in a durable door. One made of aluminum or steel can withstand repeated use – and the occasional ding.
- Reserve one spot in your car for the door opener of your garage, and keep it there always. Failing to do so could find you fumbling to find the opener in the dark. In a distracted state, with your car in drive but with your foot on the brake, your car could inch forward and – you guessed it – ram the garage door. While you’re at it, hide the opener in a console or the glove compartment so that it is not visible to potential car and house thieves.
- Keep your door in peak condition. Like other electronic devices, a garage door that starts to make loud banging, creaking, or squealing noises is a door that is literally crying out for repair – and again, only for a reputable garage door repair service company.
Naturally, accidents happen even when people are careful. But you can go a long way toward keeping people, cars, and your garage door safe by putting these sensible tips into high gear. One family – with two newly minted, licensed drivers – found out the hard way.