Is Your Garage Hurricane Ready?

Garage doors are extremely vulnerable to wind pressure and must be reinforced

Weather forecasters are predicting that the 2009 hurricane season will be a “relatively normal” one for U.S. coastal areas, with a good chance that six to eight hurricanes will form in the Atlantic basin. Although hurricane season starts in June, activity usually peaks in September.

Now is the time to think ahead and prepare your home for possible wind damage. Damage from wind is not just a coastal-area phenomenon.

High winds from hurricanes can be detrimental 100 miles or more inland, and extreme winds also can be generated by inland storms almost anywhere.

Most homeowners take high-wind precautions when they see the "red flag" warning signal of an impending hurricane by boarding up windows and taping exposed glass. Some have even had the foresight to use storm-grade building materials in their homes, such as shatter-proof glass and roof systems with tie-down straps.

Many homeowners, however, fail to take the crucial extra step needed to prepare their homes by having a reinforced garage door, which is the largest opening in a home and a likely entry point for potentially devastating wind.

Research shows that about 80 percent of residential wind damage starts with wind entry through garage doors. "Wind pressure is often the most devastating culprit in a hurricane. If a garage door is blown off, tremendous wind pressures enter a home within seconds and may blow off the roof and walls," says Dr. Steve Lyons, tropical weather expert for The Weather Channel "Garage doors are extremely vulnerable to wind pressure and must be reinforced."

Weather experts have surveyed post-hurricane damage and concluded that structures with properly reinforced garage doors suffered far less devastation than those without.

The Weather Channel and Amarr, a leading garage door manufacturer and distributor, have joined forces to create a nationwide safety and preparedness campaign called "Red Flag Ready" that is dedicated to increasing public awareness before severe weather strikes. "Although the strength of garage doors is a significant concern in high-wind conditions, many people simply are not aware of the need for reinforced garage doors," Amarr Chief Executive Officer Richard Brenner says.

"To make garage doors much stronger in high-wind conditions, we recommend a reinforcement system, which comes as an option on most new garage doors based on the individual home or businesses position."

Research indicates that less than a third of homes in hurricane prone areas have an adequate wind load reinforcement system in place to protect garage doors. In addition, only 40 percent of consumers in hurricane-prone areas know that their garage doors, by code, are required to meet building code criteria for wind pressures.

"One of our goals is to make people aware of local building codes for garage door wind loads," Brenner added. "Building codes for garage doors became much more stringent along coastal areas after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but many people seem to be unaware of those changes. High winds also can be detrimental to garage doors far inland and in areas such as in Southern California, where the Santa Ana winds are prevalent."

Most garage door manufacturers like Amarr offer reinforced garage doors, ensuring that the doors are "red flag ready" by complying with local wind-related building codes.

Contact state and local officials for more information on building codes or talk with a garage door retailer for more information about reinforced garage doors.

A list of more than 3,000 independent garage door retailers can be found at www.amarr.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Keywords: wind damage, wind pressure, reinforced garage doors

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