Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Hurricane Winds & Why Tape Strikes Out

Hurricane Andrew 1992


Up until the 1970s, it was pretty much accepted that homeowners should tape plate glass windows to keep them from shattering, but that advice has been discredited, and has not been part of hurricane prep advice for more than 30 years.

Not only does taping windows provide a false sense of security, it can bind shards of flying glass into larger, and far more dangerous, projectiles.

Still, the myth hangs on, and when storm warnings go up the masking tape comes out.

A video that I’ve highlighted in the past, from the Pinellas County Office of Emergency Management demonstrates just how useless masking, or duct taping your your windows really is during a storm .

Hurricanes are measured by the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which bases their strength on sustained wind speeds.   Anything CAT 3 or higher is considered a major hurricane.

Even a CATEGORY 1 storm can spin up tornadoes, or produce wind gusts substantially stronger than their sustained wind speeds.  Older Mobile homes, RVs, and even some conventionally built structures may not withstand a CAT 1 storm. 

While storm surge is the greatest concern to those living in low-lying coastal areas, hurricane force winds can extend a hundred miles or more inland during a land falling hurricane.

FEMA offers the following advice on protecting your home against hurricane force winds.  Some of these suggestions, admittedly needed to have been followed long before Matthew appeared, it isn't too late to do others.


The best way to reduce the risk of damage to a structure from hurricane winds is to reinforce or strengthen the building. Where available, you may also purchase high-wind insurance policies.

Windows are particularly vulnerable components on most structures.  Impact-resistant glazing or permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to laminate the glass with a thin film to keep the glass  from shattering. You can also board up windows with 5/8-inch plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
Numerous manufacturers produce certified storm-resistant window and door products. Also reinforce garage doors against direct wind effects by using storm-resistant doors or by retrofitting existing doors with commercially available products.
Roof failures commonly cause major damage to buildings and their contents.  Metal brackets and straps can strengthen the connections between the roof and wall systems. Brackets and straps should be attached at the studs and rafters, not to the plywood sheathing. The entire structure can be bolted to its foundation using anchor bolts along the foundation sill.
When a hurricane is forecast for your area, you should remove or secure items that are typically outside. Bring patio furniture, garden tools, garbage cans, and toys inside. Trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building. Anchoring storage sheds and other outbuildings helps prevent them from becoming flying debris. Anchor objects that are unsafe to bring inside, like gas grills or propane tanks

 For more on how to prepare for a Hurricane, download the full PDF.

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