When his brother bought a house on the North Carolina Coast, Dr. Tim Reinhold, IBHS senior vice president of research and chief engineer, gave him the perfect house warming gift: storm shutters for his windows. “I got the translucent kind, so if he has to put them up, he will still have light in the house.” Known to colleagues as a leading authority on wind engineering, Dr. Reinhold joined IBHS in 2004. Prior to that, he spent 12 years as a professor of Civil Engineering at Clemson University.
We’re approaching the peak of hurricane season. What can people do now to get ready?
Protect their home’s doors and windows. If high winds blow out a window or door, the pressure inside the home is likely to take the roof off. That’s why I bought my brother shutters. There are a variety of commercial shutters that can be installed, including several that are translucent, and there’s always plywood, which provides some protection but not nearly as much as commercial shutter products. Whatever you decide to use, it’s important to buy the shutters now; once a storm is forecast, it can be hard to find them in stores. To be effective, the shutters have to be properly anchored and it is best to have pre-installed permanent anchors. It takes time to measure the windows and install the anchors, so do it well before storms threaten and use permanent ones so you don’t leave empty holes when you remove the shutters. It took my brother and me half a day, working together, and I’m handy and have installed them before.
What about doors?
You can get shutters or install plywood to protect the doors. It’s a good idea to add this level of protection, especially if you have a double door. Lots of people have them on their front entry way. They look nice, but they tend to be particularly vulnerable to being blown open by the wind—much more so than a single door. After Hurricane Charlie, I met a man who had tried to hold his door closed by pushing against it; he was injured in the attempt and it didn’t stop the wind.
Garage doors are vulnerable too, and they are a big opening for wind and wind pressure to enter. If you don’t have a high wind–rated garage door, think about replacing or retrofitting it to make it stronger.