Shuttering Windows to Prepare for a Hurricane
The time to prepare for a hurricane or tornado is well in advance of the event. If you wait until a report appears on the television, it is probably already too late for to do many of the things that should be done. Preparing shutters to be installed on windows, well in advance of any knowledge of a storm is one way to be ready. Storms involving high winds can blow debris through the air and through a window. Flying glass can hurt family members and a broken window pane can admit water and high winds that can damage property. The best protection against this occurring is to prepare and install plywood covers.
Plywood covers are very easily made by cutting a sheet of 5/8 or 3/4-inch plywood so that it fits over the wood frame of a window. Predrill holes around the edge of the plywood where it meets the frame. Store the screws in a convenient place near to where the temporary plywood shutters are stored. Make sure that the screws used for this purpose go into the wood at least 1 1/2 inches. They should be located on all four edges of the board, if possible. When storing these items it may be expedient to use a numbering system so that when quick installation is necessary, there is no confusion over which plywood panel should go where.1
If a house is located in an area where storms are both frequent and sudden, it may be expedient to install permanent shutters. This is a slightly more complicated matter. Actual operating storm shutters are difficult to find. Many houses have decorative shutters and "storm" windows, but exterior shutters that can be opened and closed that were commonplace pre-1900 are seldom seen today. This is partly because they are not as necessary as they once were. Today's windows with multiple panes and sturdy construction can take more abuse than older windows can. They are much better insulated and functional.
Manufactured exterior shutters are still available in wood, fiberglass, and aluminum2. However, specifically tailoring shutters for a home may be necessary to match decor and building codes in any particular area. Many such shutters can be seen around the Florida Keys, where severe weather is common during hurricane season3. These shutters are normally hinged on either side of a window and latched when closed.
1. Reference to article once at: http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/howto/how2017.shtm - FEMA Website
2. Remodeling My Space
3. All About Shutters