Hurricanes were active in 2012 with the most devastating being Hurricane Sandy along the Atlantic Northeast, causing 286 deaths and $68 billion in damages, behind only Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is a virtual guarantee that at some point in time, a hurricane will affect homes and businesses in the Caribbean and along the east and gulf coasts. Hurricane shutters keep window and door openings from being breached and negative pressure imploding the roof-thus lessening the risk of total disaster.
Exterior window shutters along the hurricane prone regions of the United States protect windows, entry doors, and especially patio doors, from being smashed in or sucked out during a hurricane event. Post-event photos have shown hurricane proof windows lying on the ground, unbroken, but having been sucked out of the building due to the negative pressures generated from the wind passing by a home. Hurricane winds actually speed up as they go around the home and the negative pressures are higher than the positive (wind impact) side of the home. People often want outdoor shutters on the ocean side to protect their homes, but the reality is the back side of the home is possibly more vulnerable than the front. Open a sliding glass door. It moves and rides on a track. Put 1,200 lbs. of pressure (60PSF-pounds per square foot x 20 sq ft operable sash) against that door. The frame flexes, the glass flexes, and ultimately the sash is no longer attached to the home. (PS- the burglars are also aware of this weak entry point into a home).
There are 5 important things you can do to protect your coastal home from hurricanes.
- Protect Patio Doors: hinged and sliding glass patio doors are possibly the most vulnerable opening in a home and should be a primary concern. Manual egress push-up/pull-down rolling shutters are the best protection.
- Protect windows: clear panels, hurricane screens, accordion shutters, and bahama hurricane shutters are great choices for windows.
- Reinforce your garage door: garage door companies have upgrades available to stiffen up the sectional panels to meet hurricane guidelines.
- Protect entry doors: manual egress push-up/pull-down rolling shutters provide the most benefit, but clear panels, operable hurricane mesh, and accordion shutters can also be an acceptable solution.
- Have a generator: power is often not restored for weeks and any water penetration into the home from unprotected openings will generate mold or mildew. Getting fans and air conditioning back into operation is important.
Windows will leak with wind-driven rain above 25 mph. Having Roll-a-way hurricane protection is the first line of defense to protect a home. Nearly 65% of homes exposed to Andrew, and 40% of homes exposed to Hurricane Iniki, had water damage from rain (HUD, 1993).