“There are many risks in the home”
July 18, 2019 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Holy shit this is horrifying.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:18 PM on July 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

As I started to read the article, I figured, "oh, there must be a compromise between the danger to children and the ease of use to the elderly and disabled." But no, the steps to make these elevators safer for children don't make them at all less accessible to anyone.

Just a fucking disgrace.
posted by explosion at 9:26 PM on July 18, 2019 [11 favorites]

I'm glad to see that Otis stepped up and installed the safety measures on all of their installed elevators. Elisha Otis invented the safety elevator which won't drop which created the modern tall building today because before then, accidents were too common for people to casually use elevators for vertical conveyance.

I'm glad the company continues forward his legacy of safety, even if perhaps too late for many, and why was this design allowed at all to begin with, Jeebus?
posted by hippybear at 9:30 PM on July 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

It's a good article but a really tough read. If the WaPo paywall is stopping you, it's syndicated here at the Laredo Morning Times.

The reporter, Todd Frankel, has also done really good reporting on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's inaction on reports of children being hurt or killed by the Britax BOB jogging stroller and the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play. These stories can be credited for recalls and proposed legislation to ban inclined sleepers. The chairperson for the CPSC announced she was stepping down soon after those stories were published.
posted by peeedro at 11:24 PM on July 18, 2019 [11 favorites]

welp, this looks like the correct place to drop this horrible blog post:

Judges and the Secrecy They've Granted Manufacturers

which sums up, with some emphasis added, things from this Reuters investigative report
posted by Cozybee at 1:05 AM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

The Laredo Morning Times throws a 451 for GDPR jurisdiction IPs.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:46 AM on July 19, 2019

No one would expect an article on this topic to be easy to read, but thank you to those who warned about the article contents. Having trauma around the death of a child, I will give a more direct warning - this has pretty graphic descriptions of child catastrophic injury/death and of their traumatized parents' reactions in the moment. Those are not sensationalized and I think are necessary to really understand the impact here, it is clear that the families included want people to viscerally see and feel the horror. Sometimes there is really no other way to make someone else see your child as a person and not a statistic.

Too often, comments around these sorts of deaths and injuries point the finger back at parents. 'Stupid parents you can't take your eyes off children for a moment!' and 'That's the parents' fault they just want a payout' and so forth. The parents involved had to go out of their way to point out that they are careful, attentive parents who babyproofed and maybe even over-protected (*). There is no parent ever in the past, present or future of parenting that hasn't had a moment where they - mere humans - had to look away, got distracted, were juggling 18 things at a time, etc. Sometimes that has no impact, sometimes you look back just in time to prevent tragedy and sometimes tragedy uses that one second out of thousands of seconds to ruin lives.

I'm only bringing that up because I have so much admiration and love for the parents who will not let the venomous assholes out there in the world, hold them back from trying to protect other children and other families from experiencing it too. My child loss is different (terminal disease) but there is nothing in the world like bereaved parents to try their damnedest to avoid nihilism and focus on helping and prevention for others - the bereaved parents club is the very worst to join but also the very most supportive. Anyway, parents speaking openly about losses like these have been through horrible pain in the first place, and many will be revictimized by comments and public discussion of the most painful moment in their lives. Hopefully most are able to insulate and protect themselves from comments etc., but with the way the human brain works possibly many can't look away.

(*) My husband and I were just talking last night about how parents now are simultaneously helicopter parents who never give our children a moment of independence to run around outside and play and drink from the hose and let the streetlights call them home, but who also ignore our children by staring at our phones all the time and never paying any attention to them while they cry lonely on a park bench. Nevermind that we give children more time and attention than ever before, and that were are all - parents or not - living in a world that increasingly expects 24/7 work connectivity. But that is really a rant for another day, and only really related through the lens of looking at the parents in the article clearly expecting criticism for not meeting every unique individual reader's perfect parenting standards.
posted by ramble-on-prose at 6:31 AM on July 19, 2019 [26 favorites]

I literally had to stop reading this, I can't imagine being any of these parents. Or rather, my imagination was painting all too vivid a picture of this. So incredibly awful. I can't imagine how these people sleep at night, honestly. If my company was even inadvertently responsible for the horrible death of a child, it would haunt me for life. I just . . . so many times we hear people paying lip service to "what about the children" and here's a simple if somewhat costly thing that one manufacturer actually already went ahead and fixed and . . . nothing. Too hard, too complex, much easier to let little kids be killed. Shit's dangerous, people, it's the parent's fault. Man, I'm just tired of this shit. So tired.
posted by dellsolace at 6:34 AM on July 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

In 2016 I designed and had built, a fully accessible house with an elevator in it. So this is relevant to my interests and experience.

I can tell you the libertarian-imagined perfectly available information does not exist. Instead it's a mishmash of confusion out there. Trying to find info, well websearches just turn up lots of SEO garbage, and sketchy websites from faraway companies who are just trying to get everyone to call them so their salesman can tell you you are out of their service area.

However when we finally did find a company that installed residential elevators, and was willing to do one in our location, they shepherded us through a pretty complex maze of building codes, much of which is designed to mitigate this exact risk. The article talks about how the code used to allow a 5" gap between doors, and now it's down to 4". But when we did this in 2016 the code was 3" and that is what we have. This is part of what you have to build into the house, not so much the elevator equipment; our regular house carpenters had to get it within spec, and the elevator company AND the governmental inspector checked it before the elevator equipment was even delivered.

Then there were some additional safety features. There is a thing called a light curtain that has little light beams across the space between the doors. They're like those garage door safety beams, but instead of one at ankle level they are every 3", horizontal beams across the space between the doors. If the beams are broken the elevator does not move.

There's a thing called a lunar key which you can use to open the doors even when they are supposed to be locked. The elevator came with one of them but we have since procured two more, so we have one in close proximity to each door.

On the minus side, well...

The state we live in requires an inspection for a residential elevator when it is installed, but never again. So if you disable all the safety stuff later, it's on you and no one will stop you.

Our light curtain failed, replacing it was an enormously difficult problem, and the repairman would have happily let us slide by, with just turning it off instead of replacing it. (We replaced it, and never mind the hassle.)

And in the process of figuring out how to solve the light curtain issue, I discovered that every piece of our (really well designed and safe) elevator is available inexpensively from Chinese companies and can be ordered by anyone willing to deal with the international shipping complexities. I have had more than one mechanically inclined friend start riffing on how they're love to put their own elevator in their barn, DIY. This could be pretty dangerous.

I wonder how many completely uninspected, amateur designed and installed elevators are out there? Knowing what I know now I would say that anyone who can buy a few parts from China and turn their bicycle into an ebike, would have the skills and parts-sourcing abilities needed to make a functional but unsafe residential elevator, and modest carpentry skills could pretty it up to the point where the unsafeness is not obvious. And in my searching for a professional to do it, I found a lot of abandoned websites from companies no longer in business. How many of these websites are just the kind of amateurs I'm talking about here?
posted by elizilla at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2019 [13 favorites]

I 'm surprised residential elevators don't have to be inspected yearly because the elevator service companies can make money doing the inspections.
posted by vespabelle at 1:47 PM on July 19, 2019

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