Thursday November 9 2017

Keep your child away from that sliding gate

If possible, discourage children from opening the

If possible, discourage children from opening the gate and ensure they are not nearby when you do so. Photo by Godfrey Lugaaju 

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Slide gates are becoming more popular because they are the best alternative where space is limited, are easy to operate even by a child as young as five years. Although the gates are convenient, poor maintenance and installation can turn into outrageous costs, including loss of lives and property when they fail.

What can happen?
In January 2013, a four year-old boy died instantly when his head was smashed by a gate at his parents’ home in Ntinda. He had joined the security guard to open a gate for his father. Halfway opened, the sliding gate fell back, crashing his head.

Some children or even adult may put their feet in the path of roller while the gate is being slid thereby causing injuries to their feet. The commonest incident in the sliding gates is falling off the hinge.

The gate may lose its pivot hinges after a long time if not well serviced or continuous spraying with water can finally rust away. This can cause an accident if there was a person nearby by the time the gate loses it pivot hinges.

Scovia Aguti, a freelance construction manager, reports that the sliding gate can also get dislodged off the rollers once it is met with an obstacle or if it is hit with a force. There could be someone on the other side and since these gates are usually heavy the person may easily die.

“Concrete or asphalt can cause reactions with the insulation of these loops and lead to direct grounding of the loop sensor. When the insulation of these loops has been compromised, water or other ground conditions can short out these sensor loops, yielding them ineffective,” she says.

Many gate-related injuries have occurred from the automatic sliding gate. Both adults and children can get severe injuries or be killed if they become entrapped in the gates as they are automatically opened or closed. Many older gates do not have sensing devices or reversing mechanisms to prevent these entrapments. Besides loss of lives, people have suffered big losses when the gates crash their properties, such as cars.

How they operate
Sliding gates operate on a glide-track set into the ground and a single piece sliding gate mounted on a track, that moves in a parallel motion back against the adjoining fence or wall is very secure and least likely to be rammed open.

They are operated by a single gear motor on a rack and pinion drive principle. Such gates slide on their rollers to open and close. Rollers are the wheels that drive a sliding gate.

Mike Busuulwa, who installs gates at Star Metal works, says if your house has an uphill driveway, a sliding gate is a perfect idea, as the gate is not forced over a gradient or never hanging in air when opening outward like in the case of swinging gates. It is important, however, to ensure there is plenty of room for the gate to slide back against the perimeter.

Busuulwa advises that, “Sliding gates should be installed with strong rollers and supports to keep them in their positions. Stainless steel rollers are the best because they can withstand the effects of water, mud which is not the case with other types of rollers.”

He adds that it is critical that the speed and force used while sliding the gate do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations. This is also likely to cause fall off incidences, easy wear out and accidents.

There are several cheap rollers which usually become faulty immediately after installation and according to Aguti, it is hard to distinguish between a fake and genuine one. It is, therefore, recommended for a homeowner to buy rollers from a reputable hardware shop which will provide them with a warranty.

Servicing & maintenance

Scovia Aguti, a freelance construction manager, advises that you can still have your trendy sliding gate since the accidents are still preventable in the following ways:
Although some homeowners rarely pay attention to the maintenance of their sliding gates, it is recommendable that they routinely check the gate and take caution to whatever faults that may be there.

When a gate service provider works on a gate, it is essential to verify that all of the safety devices for that gate are functioning to their maximum potential. Threshold beams, magnetic loops, and auto reverse functions need to be checked regularly.
She says, “Water or mud may have infiltrated into the pivot or hinge system which gradually weaken their functionality. This necessitates routine checks to ensure that the risks of accidents are lessened.”

Caution for children
To avoid accidents, parents should warn children from swinging and sliding on the gates as this usually destroys it gradually or may fall off while there is no adult to help. “Even in the presence of an adult, warn the children to stand some distance away from the gate to prevent any accidents that may arise thereafter,” says Busuulwa.