Regulators warn of deadly danger to children in Airbnb vacation rentals

Federal safety regulators call on Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms to take action to protect young children from a potentially fatal gap involving residential elevators after another child dies between interior and exterior doors of the product.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission urges platforms to require “hosts” using their services to deactivate residential elevators or provide proof of an inspection certifying that there are no dangerous deficiencies.

The request comes less than two weeks after a 7-year-old died in an elevator at a rental beach house in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The boy was discovered between the bottom of the elevator car and the top frame of the house door, his crushed neck after he apparently got stuck between the interior accordion door of the moving elevator and the exterior door.

“Residential elevators can present a life-threatening but unforeseen danger to children, especially children who encounter them in vacation or rental homes,” Robert Adler, acting president of the agency, said on Tuesday. appeal for a protective action against a gap that may exist between the exterior and interior doors.

In his letter to vacation rental platforms, Adler also urged immediate notifications of potential hazards to all tenants, as well as the requirement for elevator inspections of anyone posting an advertisement in the future.

Airbnb said it received the letter from CPSC and was reviewing its contents.

TripAdvisor offered a similar reaction, saying in an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch that it was examining how the recommendations “might be applied to our vacation rental policies.”

Vrbo, however, quickly committed to at least some of the CPSC’s suggestions.

“We will share important elevator safety information with homeowners who have residential elevators. This will include a recommendation to disable elevators until they can be properly inspected and common safety issues are resolved. Vrbo has also posted information about elevator safety on our Trust and Safety page, available to all customers. Our Terms require property owners to comply with all safety laws and keep equipment safe and in good repair. working condition with regular maintenance, ”he said.

Residential elevators, according to the CPSC, are typically found in multi-story homes, townhouses, vacation homes, and rentals, as well as in larger homes converted to hostels or bed and breakfasts. But the elevators have proven to be heartbreaking for some families on vacation.

“Children, some as young as two and up to 12, have been crushed to death in this space, suffering from multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia,” Adler noted. “Other children suffered horrific and lifelong injuries.”

For years, safety advocates have warned of disasters involving children and home elevators, including the parents of then 10-year-old Jordan Nelson, paralyzed in 2013 in an elevator accident at a home in beach rented by his family in South Carolina. “He has those huge dimples, that bright smile and he knew how to work it”, her mother told CBS News in 2014.

After decades of lawsuits, the country’s elevator safety code narrowed the gap between doors in 2017, but the new rules only impacted new installations, leaving hundreds of thousands of elevators behind. existing ones posing a fatal danger to tiny bodies.

Fixing the problem is relatively inexpensive, with fixes including space guards or electronic monitoring devices that disable elevators after a child is detected in space, according to the CPSC.

If the gap is too large, a small child can get stuck between the bedroom access door and the elevator car door.

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

The CPSC issued a safety advisory in August 2019 alert urging action to protect children from the space between residential elevator doors, while urging owners of homes with elevators to hire a qualified inspector.

The latest child death came just three days after the CPSC made the unusual decision to vote to sue ThyssenKrupp Access, part of the German group ThyssenKrupp, in an effort to remedy the flaws in the child crushing allegedly. The company is already taking many of the measures requested by the agency and providing free inspections, equipment and facilities to deal with the danger, despite exiting the residential elevator industry in 2012, he said in a statement. . Release.

The company had also drawn negative attention after a 4-year-old was trapped under a ThyssenKrupp Access residential elevator in November 2019. The child escaped serious injuries, but further highlighted the danger of residential elevators usually which had resulted in the deaths of at least eight children. and two seriously injured since 1981, The Washington Post reported in July 2019.

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