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CPSC Urges Vacation Rental Platforms, AirBnB, Vrbo, TripAdvisor and Others to Require Owners to Disable Home Elevators Immediately

Release Date: July 20, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Following another report of a tragic death of a young child in a residential elevator, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Robert Adler today asked the vacation rental community for help. In a letter to vacation rental platforms, AirBnB, Vrbo, and others, Adler urged the companies to take steps immediately to protect vulnerable consumers.

“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.  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 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. Other children have suffered devastating and lifelong injuries. Last week, a 7-year-old child was reported to have tragically died in a vacation home elevator in North Carolina.

Today’s letter is the first time the agency has publicly called on vacation rental businesses to take immediate action. Specifically, the letter asks rental companies to notify all renters immediately about the potential hazard via 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, unless and until those members provide proof of an inspection, certifying that no hazardous gap exists; and require elevator inspections of anyone posting a listing going forward.

CPSC has issued warnings, recalls and a lawsuit concerning residential elevators.

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

CPSC will continue its investigation into the safety of residential elevators, and advises consumers to report any safety incident involving residential elevators at www.SaferProducts.gov.

 

Release Number
21-166

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

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