To some extent, we all know what’s important in a good storefront door. Easy to use, resists break-ins, doesn’t leak water when it rains, and keeps bugs and vermin out, is a pretty good list to start with. But much of the time, these standard criteria for commercial doors don’t cut it anymore. The climate is changing – ecologically and politically – and that’s made it important for businesses across the country to shore up their defenses against acute episodes of inclement weather or protests gone wrong.
Every business needs official plans of action in case of emergencies, whether that’s flooding, fire or armed intruders. And your business’ doors play a vital role in making sure these POA’s actually keep your facility and employees safe if/when the time should come. That means equipping your business with commercial door systems and hardware that protects both property and people.
Hurricanes, Tornadoes & Winds
At the very least, a business’ storefront doors should be rated for high winds, because it’s not just Tornado Alley and the Gulf Coast that deal with extreme wind. In fact, one contributing cause to most wildfires in CA and the PNW are strong, consistent winds or huge gusts and microbursts.
The danger in failing to install a commercial door system with framing and hardware that’s all rated and reinforced to withstand high winds is that, should the door be compromised or ripped off, those high winds can completely obliterate the roof of your facility. Even if you’re not somewhere prone to hurricanes, with all the extreme weather happening unexpectedly in places it shouldn’t, hurricane-rated doors might keep you safe from any kind of unprecedented wind event.
This one’s all about the frames and hardware on all your facility’s commercial doors. The West Coast is a seismically-active area, and it’s only going to get more active with time. Slowly, so might the interior of the country (Anyone remember New Madrid, MO?). Is it ever a bad idea to build your building with durable and reinforced materials? Nope.
Your facility’s doors play an important role in making sure your business is as earthquake-resistant as possible; doors and their frames are potential weak spots in any structure. That’s why reinforced aluminum framing on exterior as well as interior doors is always a good idea, as is industrial-grade security hardware and doors that are resistant to deformation. The other plus about well-made, movement-resistant interior door frames is they provide safe cover for riding out an earthquake.
Businesses in coastal towns or floodplains need to be prepared for flooding at all times. Like extreme wind and earthquake events, flooding is only going to become a more prevalent problem in more areas as the climate continues to change. Flooding isn’t usually an “emergency,” per se – you can always send your workforce home at the first sign of a National Weather Warning or something. But flooding can be absolutely catastrophic for businesses – the structure of the building, safety of any equipment, and security of any inventory. So that means seal, seal, seal. Weather stripping, glass pane doors, skylights – anything that air might intrude upon, water will, too – just way more violently. Also, if you know you’re in a flood-prone area, choose commercial door materials that are warp and rot-resistant; it will save you trouble overall.
This one’s obvious. Fire is always a risk, for a number of reasons, most of which are unpredictable and happen in the blink of an eye. Every jurisdiction has structural codes requiring businesses to have fire-rated doors and several points of egress in cases of fire. Some also require “Areas of Refuge” for people who might not be able to get out in time. They’re supposed to be protected with high-rated fire and smoke doors to increase chances of surviving the fire.
Whether it’s caused by nature, old electrical work, or someone who forgot to turn off the space heater at their desk, creating a network of fire doors on the interior and exterior of your facility is a non-negotiable if you want to keep your employees and your assets safe.
At what point should we count riots as a natural disaster worth taking preventative measures for? Probably yesterday. With mass public protests becoming more common in bigger metropolitan areas, businesses with storefronts in central areas need to think about the possibilities of riots breaking out in any given protest.
The good news is, while it should definitely be among your various emergency plans of action, if your business’ exterior and interior doors are already reinforced to protect from the natural elements, you’re in good shape for protecting your facility from the dangers of riots as well, like fires or glass-breaking impacts. See? Two birds, one stone someone threw at the window.