If you go shopping for replacement windows, hurricane shutters or a host of products to strengthen and protect your home, you'll see a Miami-Dade certification sticker. Or a salesperson will tell you that the product is "Miami-Dade approved."
What does that mean?
The product has undergone approval testing, established by Miami-Dade County in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, that is generally thought to be more strict than that of some other national product-certification groups, explained Tim Reinhold, vice president of engineering at the Institute for Business and Home Safety in Tampa.
"The general feeling is, it's more stringent. In some cases it's more paperwork," he said. "We would recommend to homeowners that if you're looking at, say, a shutter product, get something that is Dade-approved. They have a little bit higher criteria than the rest of the national standards."
Manufacturers have to pay to have their products tested and certified, so the fact that a product doesn't carry a label doesn't necessarily mean it's an ineffective product. It may just mean it hasn't been submitted for testing, which is voluntary.
"You should have better confidence if you do have product approvals," Reinhold said. "A lot of offshore stuff, the material's not up to snuff, it might corrode or not act properly. As a homeowner you're better off buying something with some level of product approval."
Window certification covers the glass and the frame, which are evaluated as a unit because the glass is only as strong as the frame that holds it. Similarly, a garage door is only as strong as its framing. Reinhold cautioned that the way a product behaves in a test doesn't necessarily reflect "what really happens in a real storm. A specific real-world event doesn't mean no problems," he said.
Miami-Dade provides an online list of products it has certified. Go to www.miamidade.gov. Search for "Approved products."