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Why Harrison Ford Has Me Considering Garage Door Safety

By Bonnie Massey

Harrison Ford / Garage Door Safety
Credit: Movie Stills Database

I grew up on the Star Wars franchise, binge watching all three original episodes with my dad and three brothers when we could. My favorite was always the second one,  The Empire Strikes Back. Honestly, like many children of the eighties, the main reason I loved watching Star Wars was that I thought the rugged Harrison Ford was incredibly handsome.

Years later while working in our family garage door business, I attended the International Door Association Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. While walking through Caesar’s Palace, who did I see sitting alone, but Harrison Ford? Like an excited schoolgirl, I mustered up my courage to talk to him: “Hello?” He raised his head. I continued, “I just wanted to tell you that I have loved your movies since I was a little girl, and I wanted to thank you for making them.” He looked down shyly, shook my hand and smiled. It was an exciting moment for me to meet this actor I had looked up to for so long.

Now Harrison Ford is making news headlines, not for his acting, but for winning a lawsuit regarding an injury he sustained on a London movie set while filming one of the newest films in the Star Wars franchise: The Force Awakens.

There was a lack of communication between the person operating a hydraulic door and the actor on the set of the Millennium Falcon. The operator unknowingly closed the door while Harrison Ford was underneath it, and the door fell like a “blunt guillotine” millimeters from Ford’s face. The steel door hit him with the weight of a small car and pinned him by the pelvis to the ground as he passed underneath it. Disney was fined over $2.6 million dollars over this incident. The court was told that Ford could have been killed by the heavy door and that the production company was responsible for ensuring a safe workplace. Ford suffered fractures to his fibula and tibula, and he had a dislocated ankle. Ford was airlifted to a hospital in Oxford after the incident and later had surgery on his left leg.

Harrison Ford’s injury has raised much needed public awareness of the potential dangers associated with operating any large moving door, and this relates to garage door safety at home.

While hydraulic doors and garage doors are not exactly the same, they share some important similarities. Both are powerful machines, which provide security and convenience, but both can be dangerous if one is not careful.

It’s critical to be aware and pro-active with your garage door in order to avoid possible injuries, and keep your loved ones and yourself safe.  As the International Door Association website states: The “proper installation, operation, and maintenance and testing [of your garage door] are necessary to provide safe, trouble-free operation. An improperly adjusted garage door or automatic opener can exert deadly force when the door closes. This could lead to serious injury or death from being hit by a closing garage door or from being trapped under the door.”

This is some scary stuff! Our company, Entry Systems strongly suggests regular maintenance of your garage door and operator to ensure safe operation. You can do your own garage door safety check by following some simple steps from IDA’s garage door safety reference guide.

Remember, we are always here for our local Orange County residents, and would love to set up a maintenance plan for you to avoid those stressful emergency calls when something breaks unexpectedly!

About Entry SystemsEstablished in 1972, Entry Systems, a subsidiary of Laguna Niguel Garage Door Service, Inc., is one of the longest running garage door and gate repair companies in South Orange County. As a family owned business with over 40 years experience, the company has been an industry leader providing unrivaled service since its beginning.

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Garage Door Springs – A Safety Warning

Never, in any circumstance, should you ever attempt to adjust your garage door springs unless you are a trained professional.

Failure to respect this warning could result in permanent physical damage. Torsion springs are very high powered springs and without the proper training, you will not know how to adjust or work on them safely.  Never  release the garage door in the open position. If you have a broken spring and you don’t realize it, your garage door will crash down, resulting in injury or damage to anything underneath it. Regular maintenance checks are recommended to prevent personal injury and damage to the garage door.

Always start with the garage door closed to check your door balance. If the garage door starts to fall, never try to catch it with your hands or feet. Just let it fall. Never put your fingers in between the sections. To prevent pinching use handles or hinges to assist the door up or down. Springs counterbalance the weight of the door making the door seem as if it only weighs 10-15 pounds. If you have a broken spring, you will feel the weight of couple hundred pounds even on a lightweight door.

brokenspringdrawing

Keeping your door well balanced will not only make your home a safer place but will also keep your garage door operator running longer and quieter.

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How Do Garage Door Torsion Springs Work?

Torsion springs often go unnoticed until they break.

torsion_spring_door

Here’s how the torsion system works:

  • The bottom section of the garage door has brackets on which the cables attach.
  • The cables run alongside the door and are attached to cable drums.
  • The cable drums are tightened onto the torsion tube which runs along the top of the door and is slid inside the springs.
  • The springs are secured on the center bracket which is attached to the header of the garage.
  • The other end of the spring is wound up, creating tension, and then secured to the torsion tube using set screws.
  • The spring distributes its power through the tube to the drum, from the drum to the cable to the bottom of the door.

Every time you lift the door the springs unwind.  Anytime you close the door the springs wind up. Springs are typically wound one full revolution per foot high of the door. The springs are calculated per the weight of the door. If the weight of the door increases by more than just a few pounds (whether it be by adding decorative or structural changes), the springs need to be replaced. If the springs are not the right size, the door will either be too light or too heavy.

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