That time of year again
Have you been in denial about hurricanes for the last five years, as I have been? Well this is the year I finally did something about it and maybe it's the year you should also.
The first line of defense in protecting your home in the event of a hurricane is securing the door and window openings of your home or condo. There are several ways to secure these openings, but hurricane shutters remain the most popular and economic means to achieve this protection.
Roll down hurricane shutters affixed above windows and doors can be either operated electrically or with a manual crank. If you use electrical motors to raise and lower your shutters, a battery back-up is recommended in the event of a power outage following a storm.
Shutters with motors can be operated by one person quickly and also provide sun protection and act as a theft deterrent if you're away from home for long periods of time. They are, however, the most expensive type of shutter or window opening system with the exception of hurricane glass.
You can also purchase storm panel hurricane shutters, which are totally removable, strong and relatively inexpensive. They do require storage and can be difficult to handle with sharp edges and will require more than one person to install.
Accordion hurricane shutters are housed beside the windows or doors when not in use and then unfold in an accordion style on tracks. Although these shutters are easy to prepare for a storm and have some of the same benefits as roll down shutters with less cost, they can look bulky and out of place on some houses.
There are also colonial and Bahama hurricane shutters, which can be used to protect windows only. These shutters are a permanent installation on homes and are closed or lowered to prepare for a storm, however, they do not provide a very secure way to protect your home and can permanently block light.
As effective as shutters have always been, the state-of-the art in window and door protection is hurricane glass. Hurricane glass can withstand hurricane debris because of a durable plastic layer sandwiched between the glass similar to the windshield of a car and completely eliminates the need for shutters.
It's a more expensive option, especially on existing homes where window and door frames must be replaced, but once it's installed there is nothing additional to do when preparing for a storm. Hurricane glass is becoming the norm in new construction where code requires some form of hurricane protection for window and door openings.
Finally, there are some high-tech fabrics which meet hurricane codes and allow light and visibility while protecting from high winds. The once popular window film does not meet hurricane codes but may give some limited protection. And, of course, the low-tech solution is plywood, which does not meet building codes and may or may not give adequate protection based on the method of installation.
Anna Freud was one of the first psychologists to identify denial as an immaturity in the ability to learn and cope with reality. Our reality is that in June of every year we have to start thinking about "the big one" and one of the ways to cope with that reality is to be prepared. Don't be in denial about the dangers a hurricane can bring. Be a grown up; secure your family and your home.