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Earthquakes and Garage Doors

From residential garage doors to retail overhead doors, there were hard lessons learned in the aftermath of California’s 6.0 earthquake on August 25, 2014. Some homeowners found that bracing garage doors is paramount—especially in homes with a room over the garage. Otherwise, the walls might not be sturdy enough to make it through an earthquake. Reinforcing them with panels of plywood and steel straps is a start, but this is still a danger zone. The combination of such a large opening (the garage door itself) and the second-story room weight isn’t a good one.

Those narrow wall sections on each side of the garage require reinforcement even if you don’t live in Earthquake Country. Relatively speaking, northern California’s earthquake wasn’t a major event. However, it should still serve as a warning for any garage owner. Here’s how to prepare for natural disasters while protecting one of the most vulnerable areas of your home or commercial space.

Brace Yourself

When the seismic load of an earthquake is in motion, your property has to support the load being transferred from the structure of the property to the foundation. Bracing can only be done by a professional, licensed engineer or architect—however, starting with the right materials is also a must. If your garage is old, outdated or hasn’t been maintained, you’re already starting out with a handicap.

The garage or overhead doors themselves can make a huge difference in security. For example, multi-panel doors compared to old fashioned single-panel doors aren’t prone to breaking or cracking. High quality metals or thick woods compared to decades-old cheap materials are obviously going to withstand an earthquake better. Even if you don’t have living space above a garage, poor quality can lead to damage inside the garage—like your car, recreational equipment or inventory.

Prepping the Garage for Disaster

Reinforcing the garage door walls, as well as springing for a new and improved door, is just part of the prep. You should also add childproof latches on all railings and cupboard doors in the garage. Make sure heavy items are on lower shelves, and keep those items away from the car. Otherwise, you risk damaging your ride or barricading yourself inside. If there are flammable items—like camping propane tanks—keep them away from the house. A shed is preferable.

Most importantly, have an earthquake and other natural disaster plan at the ready. You and your loved ones should know the safest places in the home during an earthquake (Hint: It’s not in or over the garage). This is often in door frames or other areas of the home that are reinforced naturally. Keep calm and consider Napa Valley’s shaker a reminder to increase your readiness—starting with the garage.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 3:30 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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