The United States averages 17 hurricanes per decade, 34% of which are classified as major (category 3, 4, or 5). In 1992, Hurricane Andrew killed 65 people and caused $26 billion in damage. That was the impetus for city, county and state authorities to develop new hurricane-resistant building codes.

hurricane resistant doors
Church with hurricane shelter

Hurricane doors dramatically reduce the risk of harm to building occupants. They also allow for conformance to local and state code requirements.

These specialty door assemblies are tested with the positive and negative pressures that occur during hurricanes. They are then rated with a “design pressure,” which is different than wind speed. For example, a wind speed of 170 mph produces a design pressure of +49/-53 psf. This value will vary depending on the height above ground, the opening’s location in the building, and other factors.

When specifying hurricane doors, it’s important to:

  1. have a structural engineer provide a design pressure for each opening;
  2. select listed opening assemblies with equal or greater design pressure values;
  3. ensure the functional needs of the openings are met (i.e. fire rated with panic exit hardware, glazing, etc.).

Many SDI Certified manufacturers produce doors that can resist winds from 110 to 170 miles per hour and are in accordance with the strict requirements of ANSI A250.13, the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the South Florida Building Code (SFBC).

Resources

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