Is your house hurricane strong? Survey suggests key may be in garage door

Published 2:27 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) annual Is America HurricaneStrong? survey tracks past and future consumer preparedness actions and levels of understanding regarding safety, home protection, building codes, and insurance.

The 2024 findings identified a significant knowledge gap in awareness of the relationship between strong garage doors and home damage, specifically roofs and adjacent walls.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) evaluated longstanding post-hurricane engineering findings that strong, reinforced garage doors can serve a vital and protective role in severe winds. Their analysis of thousands of homes affected by the 2011 Joplin tornado revealed a strong correlation between homes with intact garage doors and undamaged roofs and adjacent walls. The correlation remained effective in windspeeds up to 135 mph.

However, 60% of the #HurricaneStrong survey respondents indicated that they were unaware that a strong, reinforced garage door would help protect their roof and adjacent walls, even in category two hurricane winds of 110 mph. Closing this knowledge gap is critical as preventing roof and wall failure is one of the most important ways to mitigate catastrophic and costly hurricane damage.

“Garage doors are the largest and weakest opening on a home, and our post-storm investigations show that more than 90% of the time that hurricane winds and debris impact homes, garage doors are the first elements to fail, leading to progressive damage or even complete destruction,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “What the NIST analysis validates, and this year’s survey reinforces, is that we need to help homeowners understand how an investment of less than $750 can spare their home from the most extensive and expensive damage. That is why we’re spreading the word that ‘In 2024, it’s all about the garage door.'”

Homeowners have three options to ensure their garage door can withstand high winds.

Construct temporary DIY 2-by-4 wood braces to reinforce non-wind-rated doors, with materials costing around $150, plus installation expenses if necessary.

Install a ready-to-use garage door storm kit, including purpose-built struts and braces, at approximately $200 to $750, depending on the size of the door and the homeowner’s DIY skills.

Replace and upgrade to a wind-rated or impact-resistant garage door at an average cost of $2,000 to $9,000.
Survey Methodology
Now in its fourth year, the Is America HurricaneStrong? survey sampled 500 respondents ranging in age from 18-24 (8%), 25-34 (16%), 35-44 (21%), 45-54 (20%), and >54 (35%). The respondents were 58% female and 42% male and resided in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. View and download the topline survey report here.

For more information on strengthening your garage door and all the ways to prepare for a hurricane, visit or the bilingual “Prep Center.” The “Prep Center” topics cover building codes, evacuation zones, home inventory, hurricane shutters, insurance check-ups, power outages, pet safety, sandbags, and tips for strengthening homes against flooding, high winds, and lightning.