Have you ever wondered why certain parts in Florida are required to have exterior swinging doors? Today, your question will be answered as we've done the research about the main reason why homeowners in Florida have to comply with this particular requirement.
Homes in certain parts of Florida do have an outward opening door to comply with the state's Building Code requirement. This is to ensure the occupants' and their properties' highest level of protection in case a strong weather disturbance, like a hurricane, hits the area.
Continue reading so we can tell you more about Florida's building code and door requirements. We'll also discuss how these will help raise the level of safety and security of the residents in the event that a powerful hurricane strikes again.
Why Do Exterior Doors Swing Out In Florida?
They say Florida has one of the strictest building codes in America. It was in 2002 when they adopted a new statewide code, one that would include requiring exterior doors to swing outward for the people's safety. This is applicable to both residential and commercial establishments.
It didn't use to be this way. The building code in Florida has evolved so much since Hurricane Andrew devastated a large part of the state in August 1992.
Although it wasn't the deadliest natural disaster, Florida paid for it dearly by incurring the worst insurance crisis in US history. Homes, businesses, and properties were heavily damaged.
Hurricane Andrew exposed the deficiencies in the existing building codes, poor implementation on the part of state officials, and lack of compliance among property owners. This resulted in an economic disaster. This is how the Florida Building Code came to be.
The code is also tied to Florida's location and climate. The Sunshine State, being in the southeastern region of the country, is surrounded by bodies of water. On its west side is the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. The Straits of Florida is in the south.
The climate in Florida is either tropical (in the southern areas) or humid subtropical in its north and central parts. The Sunshine State is also not so sunny for a major part of the year. In fact, they are prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms.
Think about it. Florida has low-lying geography. It is surrounded by water, and hurricanes frequently pass by this area. With Florida's vulnerability to weather disturbances, having safety measures like requiring an exterior swinging door is a great way to manage their disaster risks.
This type of door will keep the people safe because they won't open inward when there are strong winds. This will also prevent damage to properties as long as they're safely secure inside their homes. This is how Florida hopes to reduce the impact of extreme weather conditions.
Florida Building Code: Exterior Door Swing
The main purpose of the Florida Building Code is to ensure the highest level of safety among the occupants of a given structure and prevent damage to properties.
There are specific requirements for those who will be constructing new houses, planning to have their homes remodeled, or when there's a change in occupancy.
As mentioned above, this is in response to what happened in Florida when Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Lives were lost and many were left homeless. Their properties were damaged beyond repair.
The Code is updated every 3 years based on the changing climate situation and the corresponding safety needs of the people.
Based on the Florida Building Code, exterior doors of residents and business establishments should swing outward. This is aside from being impact-resistant. With these specifications, they hope to ensure the safety of the people as well as their properties.
Entry doors that swing out are deemed to be safer especially in the context of hurricanes. Think of a really powerful storm. It can cause tornadoes and send different objects even cars hurling through your house.
Since they don't open inward, the people have an added layer of protection. Occupants won't be injured and their belongings will be kept safe inside their homes.
An inward opening door can easily be compromised with that level of force. Under extreme circumstances, it can even cause your roof to be blown off due to extreme pressure inside your home.
This is what the Florida Building Code is trying to avoid that's why they require outward swinging doors among their residents.
Are Impact Doors Required In Florida?
Impact doors are not required in all parts of Florida. There are only specific areas that are imposed to follow the specifications of the Florida Building Code and their local municipality for their protection against a hurricane.
In particular, homes and buildings which are located within one mile from the coast are expected to comply with this requirement. Their doors should have added protection that can endure high-pressure winds of more than 110 mph.
Coastal areas in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties are considered High-Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ). As such, they are required to have stronger impact doors that can withstand wind speeds of 170 mph to 200 mph.
Property owners in these areas have to prove to their building department that their doors have what it takes to withstand the impact of high wind speeds in case of a hurricane.
This will help them keep safe especially as there are no natural barriers such as a mountain to shield the people and their properties from the hazard posed by this weather phenomenon.
Florida is surrounded by bodies of water and many areas have a low elevation that puts them at high risk in the event that another strong tropical cyclone hits the state.
Having said that, this also means that houses and businesses outside of the one-mile radius do not necessarily require impact-resistant doors or follow the stringent requirements of the building code.
However, it has been the consensus among residents to use such products for their own safety and protection and to minimize losses in case of a strong hurricane.
Are Outward Opening Doors Secure?
Like all doors, the security that an outward opening door can provide is dependent on the quality of the door itself. If it is made of robust materials, then it can withstand the force of man and nature.
The main point pitched against exterior swinging doors is their vulnerability. With the hinges exposed, intruders can remove them from the outside. Additional security locks for these doors are also said to be limited.
But with advancements in door technology, manufacturers are able to come up with innovative designs that'll make it very difficult for burglars and intruders to break into your home.
One example is the use of impact glass doors which are highly resistant to the power of nature. They won't shatter into pieces even under extreme pressure. At the same time, they provide protection from criminals because they come with reinforced hinges so they won't easily be opened from the outside.
If you want to enhance the security provided by your outward opening door, you can also install a latch guard, security bars, and security hinges with non-removable pins.
The doors in Florida swing outwards as the government's way of ensuring the protection of the people and minimizing damage to their properties. They've taken the lessons taught by Hurricane Andrew seriously and rightfully so.
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Your article states that entry doors in certain parts of Florida are required to open outward. You do not list exactly what parts of Florida where this is REQUIRED not recommended. Can you provide an exact detail of where it is required and where it is not? Is this only a Miami/Dade requirement?
I didn’t know there were so many different kinds of impact doors. I need to get a new door to replace the one in my backyard. That way I can make sure my house doesn’t get broken into.
Your comments about outswing being code is not accurate. There is nothing in the building code that says residential homes must have outswinging doors. Exterior doors do have to pass the large missile test which is tough to do and for that reason not many manufacturers are able to provide such a product. However, there are a few who can. Estate by WinDoor for example, formerly known as Estate by CGI, has a 450 series door that has Miami-Dade approvals for inswing doors.
There can and most likely will be challenges with water intrusion with inswing doors but it is not against Code to install one in your house.