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Natural Disasters: How Your Commercial Doors Can Help in the Event of an Emergency

Natural disasters always seem to happen when you least expect them. Tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, and other events can cause tremendous damage, and you need to do everything you can to prepare beforehand. One of the most important—and most overlooked—parts of disaster preparation are doors.

Installing the right commercial door packages on your property plays a vital role in protecting both your building and the people inside from the impact of a natural disaster. From ensuring your commercial property has readily accessible exit routes to stopping the spread of fires related to natural disasters, commercial doors are a critical part of your disaster response plans.

Emergency Egress Doors

One of the first steps in designing your disaster response is planning out your emergency exit routes. These routes need to remain clear at all times, and they should be clearly marked as emergency exits. You should also ensure that everyone in the building knows where their nearest emergency exit is and run periodic drills to practice emergency evacuations.

One key aspect of your evacuation plan is installing emergency egress doors in all emergency exits. These doors are required to open outwards, and they must be between 32 inches and 48 inches wide. In addition, these doors need specific hardware that doesn’t require extra effort to open, like a push bar

Finally, these doors cannot be locked from inside to prevent people from becoming trapped inside a locked door. Instead, any locking mechanism must be unlocked in a single action with a device like a panic button. 

Fire Doors

While the initial damage caused by a natural disaster like an earthquake or tornado is usually the main focus, the more significant risk comes in the aftermath of these events. Earthquakes, in particular, can cause critical internal structures to shift, which can lead to an increased risk of fire from ruptured gas lines and loose electrical wiring.

In order to minimize any potential damage from fires arising from these disasters, your building should be equipped with fire doors to help slow the spread of flames and smoke throughout the building. 

Fire doors are rated to stand up to extreme heat. Wooden doors are rated for up to 90 minutes, while steel doors can withstand up to three hours of fire. These doors are not permitted to be propped open and must close freely in the case of a fire.

However, that doesn’t mean that fire doors need to be bland or ugly. You can still customize your fire doors with windows and louvers, as well as paint and varnish to give your commercial property a look you want with the safety you need.

Areas of Refuge

As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act, more and more buildings are becoming accessible for individuals with a wide range of mobility restrictions. Ramps, lifting devices, and other improvements have become standard in most buildings, making commercial properties welcoming to all people.

However, accessibility doesn’t stop with just being able to enter and exit a building. As part of your emergency plan, you need to develop what is known as “areas of refuge.” These areas provide safe spaces for individuals with mobility restrictions to shelter in place during an emergency.

Areas of refuge must be protected from smoke and fire with devices such as fire doors, and in many buildings, they are located on a floor with an automatic sprinkler system. Those with mobility problems can shelter in these rooms without having to struggle to make their way to an emergency exit, which can slow everyone trying to evacuate.

Areas of refuge should be clearly and obviously marked so they’re easy to find. Emergency personnel are trained to access these rooms using the markings as quickly as possible to aid anyone who needs assistance leaving the building. 

When you’re putting together your commercial property’s emergency response plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch with CDF Distributors to ask any questions you might have. Our experts will talk to you without using jargon or overly technical language, and they’ll make sure you have the doors you need to protect your property and your people. Contact CDF Distributors today!

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