Protect Your Home Before Hurricane Season Begins
With the commencement of summer also comes the beginning of hurricane season (June 1-November 30). For most, your home is your biggest investment and relied upon to keep families safe from the elements. The worst storms typically arrive in August and September, so early summer leaves plenty of time to prepare and make upgrades to your home. One of the most important investments one can make is protection of “openings,” or windows and doors. A breach through a door or window can double the uplift pressure in a house, causing a roof to lift up or off. It’s therefore extremely important to find a way to keep that wind and pressure out of your home. There are many options for providing window protection, ranging in cost from under $100 to over $900 per window.
First, keep in mind that the well-intentioned-yet-pointless practice of taping windows does nothing to protect them. According to a survey conducted by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), 70% of adults polled believed this was an effective practice. Tape will not prevent windows from being broken, but could result in larger, more dangerous shards of glass flying around and causing worse damage. If you know someone who relies on taping windows for protection, please suggest they use a different method and direct them to the research. FLASH’s “Go Tapeless” campaign has a wealth of information on this common misconception and information on effective hurricane mitigation measures.
Window protection comes in a wide variety of materials and installation measures. Most common are plywood shutters. These do not afford the best protection when compared to other methods, but if installed correctly they can be helpful. If using plywood, there are several guidelines to go by. Be sure to:
• Use at least 7/16” inch thick wood
• Buy and cut the wood early; you don’t want to wait until a storm comes to try buying when demand is high and supplies are low
• Use treated wood to prevent termite damage during storage
• Add a 4” overlap on each side of the window when measuring, so that fasteners can attach directly into wall studs around windows
• Use bolts or anchors, not nails
Additional methods with better success but higher costs include permanently attached roll-down shutters, fabric panels, accordion shutters, removable storm panels from metal or polycarbonate materials, and impact-resistant windows.
The fabric panels and metal/polycarbonate storm panels are a typical part of Rebuild Northwest Florida’s “full envelope” method of home protection. This program covers 75% of the total cost of installing multiple windstorm mitigation measures and typically results in a reduction in insurance rates.
If you seek to add new windstorm mitigation measures to your home and are not doing the work yourself, be sure to seek out a licensed and insured contractor. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation maintains searchable records of contractors licensed to work in Florida.
To see examples of many of these wind protection measures and other wind mitigation methods, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the demonstrations at the Escambia County Windstorm Mitigation building and pick up a Homeowners’ Handbook at the UF IFAS Extension office at 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment, FL 32533.