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With storm season upon us, it’s the right time to start thinking about how to safeguard your home and family before the next one blows through. In fact, one of the most important proactive safety steps you can take is protect the windows in your home.
During severe weather, windows can become the most vulnerable feature against wind and airborne debris. If a harsh gust enters through just one broken window, it not only rearranges your decorations and furnishings, it can alter the air pressure in your home, putting internal pressure on your roof and walls. Such a change in air pressure can sometimes be strong enough to force your roof to lift off, or push your walls out and down.
Installing impact-rated windows is one of the best ways to create a stronger barrier between your home and the outdoors. Impact windows are referred to as such because they are made of impact-resistant glass, which is both tempered and laminated, and will provide significantly more protection than storm windows.
Laminated glass is created using two layers of glass which are bonded to a durable inner layer. This strengthens the glass, and makes it seem somewhat elastic. Although in most cases the glass will still break, this bonded layer makes it unlikely for the piece of glass to scatter into millions of pieces. Some car windshields are made of laminate glass.
By combining high-performance glazing sealants with laminated glass, set into heavy-duty frames, impact-rated windows provide extra strength, safety and protection from hurricane-force winds and projectiles. Impact windows must meet certain standards, based on your home’s proximity to the coast. Local code dictates which standard applies in your area.
In the event that your home does not have impact windows, there are other safety measures you can take. The best way to protect non-impact-rated windows is to place a ¾” sheet of plywood on the exterior of each window; even if just one window is left unsecured, your entire home could be affected. The plywood needs to be cut to fit flush against your window and should be attached to the exterior of the home by applying screws every 18 inches on center and close to all corners. With careful planning well in advance of the storm, this method of protection will help prevent projectiles from entering your home and is more secure than simply taping windows, which will only deflect shards of glass.
No matter which method you choose, if you are in your home during a severe storm, please practice common safety procedures. Do not stay in rooms with windows, and have a survival kit made in advance with a first aid kit, food, bottled water, medications, radio, batteries, flashlights and other necessary items.