After Ian: Best protection of windows, doors & garages

Local 10 News continues to look into the impact of Hurricane Ian by examining the impact the storm had on windows and doors.

Windows and doors, including your garage door, are all vulnerable points of entry for damaging water and wind, which is why properly covering and supporting them is so vital.

The lessons learned from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 led to an ongoing effort to update and strengthen Florida’s building code.

In 1994, the statewide building code required all new construction to include code approved hurricane window coverings, and more recently, hurricane glass.

Dr. Fred Bloetscher, a civil engineering professor with Florida Atlantic University said many older homes in Lee and Collier Counties didn’t meet those standards.

But what about those that did?

“A lot of homes now, especially recently, have hurricane glass. Can you tell us what sort of protection that provides us and what protection it doesn’t give us?” asked Local 10 Hurricane Specialist Michael Lowry.

“Hurricane glass is actually two pieces of glass, and they’re thicker than the normal pieces, they’re at least a quarter in thick,” Bloetscher replied. “And in between them is this kind of gooey substance that when something hits the window or the window starts to flex all that stress gets translated to the sticky stuff.”

Bloetscher said hurricane glass is designed not to shatter if hit but it can still develop cracks and need to be replaced.

That’s why he’s a fan of protecting that expensive glass with code approved hurricane panels and shutters.

“The shutters keep anything from hitting the glass so now the glass has more strength so more is better,” Bloetscher said.

But nailing up pieces of plywood offers minimal protection.

“It doesn’t keep all the pressure off because the wind can still get behind it,” he said.

Another potential area of weakness can be found in older homes with exterior doors that open in rather than hurricane rated doors that open out.

“All the way around the frame there’s a lip that keeps the door from pushing in,” Bloetscher said.

And garage doors create a large surface for potential intrusion unless they’re reinforced with hurricane rated beams.

“The way they put the reinforcing on the garage is designed specifically to keep it from bending,” he said.

All-in-all, when it comes to protecting your home from hurricane damage, some upfront improvements can save your home and lives if and when a storm hits.


About the Authors:

Michael Lowry is Local 10's Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.