What are the chances that South Florida will be hit by a hurricane?
Over the past 110 years, the center of a hurricane has passed
within 75 miles of Miami, on average, once every 3.5 years. A
major hurricane (Category 3 or higher on the
scale) once every nine years, and a Category 4 or higher (such
as Hurricane Andrew) once every 15 years. These numbers may
seem high, but the last 30 of the past 110 years have been a
period of low hurricane activity in the Atlantic.
Should I tape my windows when a hurricane threatens?
No, it is a waste of effort, time, and tape. It offers little
strength to the glass and NO protection against flying debris.
After the storm passes you will spend many a hot summer
afternoon trying to scrape the old, baked-on tape off your
windows (assuming they weren't shattered). Once a Hurricane
Warning has been issued you would be better off spending your
time putting up shutters over doors and windows.
Should I put shutters over my doors???
Obviously sliding glass doors, French doors or any door with
considerable glass in it should be protected. Some double
doors or garage doors should either be shuttered or
reinforced. In Hurricane Andrew many of these type doors gave
Why should I get hurricane shutters?
People who live in coastal counties from Texas to Maine, and
those in other hurricane prone areas, such as most of the
Florida peninsula, will find shutters an excellent investment
for protecting their lives and property. They protect against
wind and wind-borne debris. These shutters protect not only
the windows or doors they cover, but also possessions and
people inside the building. Once a window or door has been
breeched by hurricane winds tremendous pressure is brought to
bear on interior walls and upward pressure on the building's
roof. This can lead to roof failure which exposes the entire
contents of the building to the storm. Shutters are a first
line of defense against the hurricane. Much of the damage and
building failure in Hurricane Andrew could have been prevented
by well installed hurricane shutters over windows and doors.
Why should I bother with shutters if I live in an evacuation zone?
Shutters will protect your house and possessions from wind
damage whether you are there or not. If the storm
surge should reach your home then the shutters won't
protect against the flood of water. But not every place in the
evacuation zone will flood. You should take every reasonable
precaution to protect your property.
What kinds of shutters are available ?
Click here for a listing.
What are the best kind of shutters ?
The best kind are those that are affordable, are easy to
install, and offer the greatest protection. Which of these
properties is most important to you depends on individual
circumstances. For a disabled or elderly person it may be ease
of installation with either an automatic closing mechanism or
accordion type shutters. For those with limited incomes
plywood shutters may be the only affordable option. For most
people the best compromise would be steel panels, which offer
good protection, but are expensive and take effort to install.
Aluminum panels are lighter and easier to install, but offer
less protection and may not meet the building code
for your area.
Which ever type you decide on it is important to remember that
shutters are only as good as the quality of their
installation. Ensure that the shutters or their anchors are
installed by qualified workmen and that quality materials that
meet the building
code for your area are used.
What about the plastic film and shatter resistant windows I've heard about ?
Although these are remarkable products that are being improved every year,
they are no substitute for shutters. If you have windows that
for some reason, such as access, can't be shuttered then you
may wish to consider using the film or installing the shatter
Remember that the film only protects the glass, and the frame
is still under pressure and the whole window could fail.
Windows with these treatments will still suffer damage from
the impact of debris and may have to be replaced after a
storm, whereas a shutter would take most or all of the energy
of such an impact. Films and special glasses also might not
meet the building code for your area.
How do I choose an installation company I can trust ?
The same way you go about choosing any company that performs a
service. Make sure they are licensed, get references, and then
check the references. Ask your neighbors and friends about who
installed their shutters and if they had any complaints or
recommendations. Check out a company with the Better Business
Bureau, your local licensing authority, or contractor
When is the best time to get my shutters installed ?
The best time to have shutters installed is when the house is
built so they can be a part of the design. If you own a house
without shutters have them installed as soon as is practical.
Keep in mind that the beginning of
hurricane season may be a busy time for most installation
companies. Do NOT wait until a
Hurricane Watch is issued for your area.
At the start of each
hurricane season you should test out your shutters. For
permanently installed shutters try closing each one to make
sure they work smoothly and lock tight. For panels and plywood
shutters try a couple of windows and doors to ensure the
hardware works and check the time you need to complete the
job. Repair any problems at this time so that everything is
ready when a storm threatens.
Hurricane Watch is issued for your area check all
mechanisms and hardware again, and maybe install the more
difficult shutters. If you live in an evacuation zone and it
will take 2 or 3 hours to complete your shutter installation,
you may want to start during the Watch phase. If you are not
in an evacuation zone you should time your installation early
Warning phase so that you are not struggling with panels
during high winds.
What if I can't afford commercial shutters ?
The least expensive, effective method of protecting windows is
probably using plywood. The key to plywood shutters is
thickness and installation. Use at least 5/8 inch exterior
grade plywood, it makes the shutters heavier but safer. They
should be cut to fit inside the window frame, installed prior
hurricane season, marked for which window they are made
for, and stored with their hardware, preferably in a dry
location. Heat and moisture over time will warp plywood, and a
good fit is essential to their effectiveness. For full
instructions on how to make these shutters
If even these shutters seem too expensive consider making them
for two or three windows at a time, starting with the most
vulnerable. After a time you will have your whole house ready.
Can condominium associations prohibit shutters?
The short answer in Florida is NO. Chapter 718 of Florida
Statutes of the Condominium Act (1991) permits each board of
administration to adopt specifications as to color, style,
etc., but all specifications "shall comply with the applicable
building code". The Florida statutes further state "... a
board shall not refuse to approve the installation or
replacement of hurricane shutters conforming to the
specifications adopted by the board."