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‘Harden’ your home against hurricane winds

Hurricane Wilma whacked Pedro Soto’s Miami neighborhood hard.  The storm’s force caused windows to shatter and roofs and terraces to crumble or fly away. Hurricane shutters kept Soto’s home almost unscathed.

Soto installed aluminum, accordion-style shutters.  As Wilma raged outside, Soto heard a loud banging noise against a shuttered window.  Winds had torn off part of his neighbor’s aluminum terrace roof and smashed it into a window’s shutter, leaving a small dent.

With no shutter, debris would have shattered the window, let wind into the home, and possibly caused the roof or walls to fall.  Soto lost some trees, but his home escaped major damage.  Unfortunately, his neighbors did not prepare their homes and were not as lucky.

Experts cite four major types of window and door protection:

• Best – a perforated metal barrier. You can see through it, it can be custom-shaped and you can leave it up all year.  They are also code-approved to withstand direct impact from flying debris, said Scott White, a national installation merchant t.
• Better – accordion-type shutters. They come in various shapes and styles and pull shut over a window or door to provide protection. 
• Good – steel or aluminum panels. The panel fastens to a permanently installed track.  Between storms, take panels off for storage.
• Traditional plywood. “A last resort,” says White. Plywood must be at least 5/8ths-inch thick to withstand flying debris (thicker is better), and nail or screw holes left in window frames can lead to wood rot.

“It wasn’t until I walked outside and saw the dent on the shutter that I realized how lucky I had been and how smart for installing the shutters . . . . All I could think was, ‘What if’ – what if I had not spent the money to protect my home,” said Soto.

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