Following the death of a 7-year-old boy in a residential elevator in Corolla earlier this month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging all vacation rental platforms, including AirBnB, Vrbo, and owners, to immediately disable their elevators.
“The agency is taking steps with manufacturers, but we need the companies that enable vacation rentals to join us,” Acting CPSC Chairman Robert Adler said in a statement on Wednesday. “These injuries and deaths are appalling and we need property owners and landlords to immediately disable elevators until they have been inspected.”
On July 11, a 7-year-old boy from Canton, Ohio was trapped in an apartment elevator in a vocational home on the 1100 block of Franklyn Street in the Corolla Light neighborhood. Rescuers rescued the boy and tried to resuscitate him, but the child died.
Residential elevators pose a hidden and deadly hazard: Young children can be crushed to death in a gap between doors, the CPSC said in the statement. If the gap between an outer door (i.e., a landing door) and the farthest point on the inner door (which is often an accordion door) is too deep, a child can enter and close the landing door without opening the inner door and get trapped between the two doors which can lead to serious injuries or death when moving the elevator car.
Children, some as young as 2 years old and as young as 12 years old, were crushed to death in that void and suffered multiple fractures of the skull, fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxiation, the commission said. Other children have suffered devastating and lifelong injuries.
The commission sent a letter to rental companies on Wednesday asking landlords to immediately notify all tenants of the potential danger by email or in a warning box on their reservation or booking pages; Immediately request all members or “hosts” using the platforms to lock the external access doors or otherwise disable the elevators on their property, unless and until such members provide evidence of an inspection confirming that there is no dangerous Loophole exists and require that in the future elevator inspections be published by anyone who publishes an entry.
For the past several years, CPSC has issued warnings, recalls, and a lawsuit regarding residential elevators.