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In southeastern states like Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina, homeowners commonly install both window shutters and fortified windows to ward off potential hurricane damage. However, many homeowners fail to consider their garage door – the most unprotected area of their home’s exterior, especially in the event of a hurricane.
According to the Florida Alliance for Safe Homes, a large percentage – almost 80 percent – of residential hurricane wind damage begins with gusts entering through garage doors. In the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross brochure, “Against the Wind – Protecting your Home from Hurricane Damage,” it states that the loss of the garage door was one of the four major factors in homes destroyed or damaged in Hurricane Andrew.
Double-wide garage doors are especially hazardous because they can wobble in high winds. Garage doors are heavy, weighing from 150 to 400 pounds, depending on their material and other factors. A falling or collapsed garage door can pose a serious hazard during a hurricane. Once compromised, winds enter the home and may blow out the walls, windows and even the roof.
One simple preventive measure is to retrofit or replace your garage door. Retrofit kits are available at your local building supply store for under a few hundred dollars. The cost to hire a contractor to retrofit or replace your two-car door runs about $600, according to FEMA. For more information, “Reinforce or Replace Garage Doors” is available as a download for your review at the FEMA website.
Faulty garage door equipment and parts pose other safety threats, as well. Here are a few tips to keep your home and family more secure.
Consider your garage door opener as a house key. Never leave the remote inside your vehicle. Never give others, such as parking attendants, access to your remote. In addition, keep your remote control away from young children who may consider it a toy.
When you leave home, make certain to watch the door completely close – and remain closed. A garage door can become unbalanced or items may block the door, causing it to reopen.
Regularly inspect your garage door and all its mechanisms: springs, rollers, cables and pulleys. The garage door will not work with worn or damaged parts. Consult a garage door expert to adjust or replace these items.
Make sure the door will reverse when it hits items in its path. Place a block of wood or a similar item below the door and close it. If it does not reverse upon contact with the obstruction, it will not reverse when it hits people, either. A garage door professional can correct this problem.
Some people leave the garage door open a bit to air out the garage. This is not wise. First, this gives burglars access to your home. In addition, the door could drop without warning and damage items or people in its path.
If you will be away from home for any length of time, unplug the garage door unit while you are gone.
If your garage door unit includes an external pin pad access code, change the code regularly. If you give the code to your children, explain to them why they should never disclose the code to any of their friends.
Some burglars use universal controls that can read your garage door access code. If your garage door does not have rolling access code technology, which automatically changes the code after every use to help prevent illegal entry by remote controllers, thieves may be able to enter your home more easily.
Your garage is the largest access point to your Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina or Alabama home. Taking the time to secure your garage can help protect your home from thieves. Consider an annual visit from a trained door systems technician to keep your door operating safely and smoothly for the long haul. For more information on homeowners insurance, visit the Frontline Insurance Online Quote page for a no-obligation estimate.