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Tape not enough

Last week we looked at the building and installation of do-it-yourself window shutter to help protect your home and family during a hurricane.

Since that article we have been asked whether a home owner could not get by with just applying masking tape to the glass. In fact, Barbadians who travel around the country on the approach of a hurricane would see that many home owners resort to this practise.

However, nothing we have seen in our research suggests there is substantial protection in taping windows, except that it would retard the amount of flying glass in the event the window is broken.

We found the following article from Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper quite interesting:

A lot of people think tape will protect the windows of their home in a hurricane.

That’s a myth, emergency officials said during the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference.

To prove it, Pinellas County, on the state’s West Coast, put together a really entertaining public service announcement.

It features the star pitcher of a high school girls’ softball team, winging fastballs at a window crisscrossed with duct tape.

Even though those fastballs were about 55 mph, the window cracked with each hit.

In a hurricane, much heavier objects than softballs – such as grills and yard furniture – could potentially ram your windows at much greater velocity, said Tom Iovino, Pinellas County government spokesman.

(Something else to keep in mind: Tape is extremely tough to tear off windows after it has baked in … sun for even a couple of days.)

Actually, that demonstration was part of a workshop on how emergency officials need to get creative to get their preparedness message out.

Iovino kept that session light and lively.

“We have to be a little bit more creative about getting the word out because we have a lot of people who live in Egypt – the state of denial,” he cracked.

Yet, communicating in terms that people can understand will save lives and reduce property damage, he said.

And that message needs to be emphasised each year, he added.

“Why do we have to repeat ourselves? Because we have a lot of new residents in Florida,” he said. “We have people who think a hurricane is a drink at a bar.”

Waste of time

Just in case you are still not convinced, here’s an extract from an article in USATODAY:

If your house is in danger of being hit by a hurricane, protecting windows and sliding glass doors is almost always the number one thing you can do to ensure you’ll have a livable house if the worst happens.

But, if you wait until a hurricane watch is posted, you are almost surely too late.

Taping up windows is a waste of time because tape isn’t going to keep your neighbour’s garbage can – which he should have stashed in a place where the wind can’t grab it – from breaking your window when a 100 mph wind flings it at your house.

True, the tape just might keep the glass from flying around the room when the garbage can hits it.

But an important rule for any wind storm is to not be in a room with windows that can be broken. If your house doesn’t have a windowless room, you should at least do something like cowering behind an overturned table or a heavy sofa in case glass starts flying.

If you waste time taping your windows, about the best you can hope for is that the storm will miss your house, and the tape won’t be too hard to remove.

Maybe now is a good time to look again at last week’s article about building your own hurricane shutters.

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