Oddly enough, when people think of household hazards, they often overlook the largest one. Garage doors, particularly older models, can be very dangerous.
Most automatic garage-door openers have a safety feature that causes the door to reverse if it encounters an obstruction. To test a garage-door opener, place a roll of paper towels under the door, and lower it. When the door hits the towels, it should reverse. If it doesn't, have it checked.
Another feature of modern garage doors is the electric eye, which reverses the garage door if anything crosses in front of it. Electric eyes have been standard equipment for garage-door openers since 1993.
Older manual garage doors use torsion springs to make opening and closing easier. These springs are under extreme tension and should not be adjusted without the proper tools. Newer manual doors incorporate a closed-spring design that can be adjusted by turning a bolt with a drill or ratchet. Torsion springs should be adjusted only if the door doesn't stay open or is difficult to open or close.
The garage doors on most new houses use automatic openers, and safety plays an increasingly important role in garage-door design. All new garage doors incorporate photoelectric eyes that stop and reverse the door if a child, an animal or an object passes in front of them. Newer photoelectric eyes use wireless technology for added convenience.
Test both the reversing mechanism and the electric eye once a month. If the reversing mechanism doesn't work, you may be able to correct the problem by adjusting the force screw in the door opener (check the owner's manual for instructions).
If you ever need to open the door when the power is out, use the red emergency cord to release the locking mechanism.
Place the control switch for the garage-door opener at least 5' above the floor so that small children can't reach it.
Another recent innovation is the wireless keypad, which opens the garage door when the correct code is entered. Keypads can be especially helpful if you find yourself locked out of the house.
Newer garage doors incorporate a "pinch proof" design that doesn't allow a finger to get caught between the panels as the door opens or closes.