The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is asking Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms to order owners to shut down their home elevators to reduce the risk of injury or death to children.
The Tuesday letter sent to Airbnb, Vrbo, Tripadvisor and other companies comes one week after a 7-year-old boy from Ohio died after he became trapped between an elevator car and elevator shaft inside a North Carolina vacation rental home.
“Residential elevators can pose a deadly but unforeseen hazard to children, particularly children who are encountering them in vacation or rental homes,” Robert Adler, acting chairman of the independent regulatory agency, said in the letter. “I reach out to you, not as a regulator, but in the hopes that you will join us in ensuring that children are safe in rentals on your platform.”
The letter claims residential elevators pose as a “hidden and deadly hazard,” since small children can get trapped in a gap that may exist between the exterior door and inner door and face “serious injuries or death” if the elevator car moves.
Children as young as 2 and as old as 12 have been crushed to death in this gap or suffered lifelong injuries, Adler said.
The letter suggests short-term rental platforms notify renters of the potential hazards via email or in a warning box on the booking page; require all hosts to lock outer access doors or disable the elevators unless they can show proof of an inspection that certifies that there are no hazardous gaps; and make these elevator inspections a requirement among hosts.
“By working together, we can stop these agonizing deaths and prevent further harm to children and families,” Adler said in the letter.
Tripadvisor said in a Tuesday statement that the company is reviewing how the CPSC’s recommendations might be applied to its vacation rental owner policies. Airbnb and Vrbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Home elevators:7-year-old boy dies in North Carolina home elevator accident
Contributing: Associated Press
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