Hurricane protection is a big deal in southeast Florida.
Many places in the US contend with the threat of some form of natural disaster. The Western US deals with the threat of earthquakes. The south-central US confronts the threat of tornadoes. But, in South Florida, we contend with the threat of hurricanes.
Follow this quick guide on hurricane protection options for comprehensive advice and guidance to help bring your hurricane protection knowledge up to snuff.
Why hurricane protection is essential for Florida homeowners
In the early 1990s, Florida had different building codes, regulations, and hurricane protection options than we have today.
In August 1992, a hurricane landed in Miami-Dade County as a Category 5 storm with winds up to 165 mph. The hurricane caused over $25 billion in damages, destroyed over 25,000 homes, and left over 250,000 fellow Floridians homeless. The storm caused 65 fatalities and over 200 injuries, signaling the need for installing hurricane protection regulations.
This event led lawmakers, the building department, and everyday Floridians to take action to prevent another natural disaster like Andrew from affecting Florida ever again. As a result, many local governments, as well as state-wide governments, installed sweeping regulations and building code changes to combat the possibility of another Andrew-like event.
The new codes required reinforced roofs, stronger windows and doors, and other structural improvements to improve hurricane protection efforts. The state also established a hurricane mitigation program to assist homeowners in retrofitting their homes with hurricane-resistant features.
Andrew was an unprecedented event in Florida’s history, and as a result, insurance companies scrambled to cover the losses and were quickly overwhelmed. Many insurance companies struggled to pay out claims to policyholders, which led to a substantial uptick in insurance premiums throughout the state.
Worried that the average Floridian could not afford the new premiums, the government created new regulations to ensure that insurance providers were sufficiently prepared for future hurricanes. Eventually, insurance companies started offering discounts to Floridians with adequate hurricane protection. Today, Florida homes are far more prepared for storms than ever, but older homes without reliable window protection still have some work to do.
Understanding the different types of hurricane protection available
Two critical elements of your home should be hardened to withstand hurricane-force winds: your roof and windows.
Hurricane Resistant Roofing
After Hurricane Andrew, Miami-Dade County began to uphold strict building codes that mandate new constructions, including homes, to comply with particular wind resistance criteria. These building codes included regulations on roofing materials and techniques, ensuring they can endure hurricane-force winds. Neighboring Broward and Palm Beach Counties established similar building codes focused on wind resistance and storm protection.
Hurricane Shutters and Impact Windows
During Hurricane Andrew, the first failure point for most homes was their windows. As wind gusts grew more severe, eventually, people’s windows began to give to the pressure. Once wind entered the houses, pressure built up within the structure until it ultimately lifted the home’s roof off, exposing its inhabitants to dangerous winds, flying debris, and torrential rain. To combat this problem, companies across the southeastern US started manufacturing different products to safeguard the windows of hurricane-prone areas.
Hurricane Protection Options
Unlike in the early ’90s, in the 2020s, many options are available to protect your home. The most popular are accordion shutters due to their affordability and convenience. However, Impact Windows have become very popular as time passes due to its transparent appearance and always-available hurricane protection.
Hurricane Accordion Shutters
Accordion shutters are the most popular option for Floridians looking for hurricane protection. They offer an excellent level of security and are far easier to use when compared to hurricane panels. With accordion shutters, the average one-story Florida home can be secured in as little as 30 minutes with no heavy lifting required. If you are in the market for accordion shutters or are just looking for more information, please check out our dedicated page here.
Hurricane Impact Windows
A newer take on hurricane protection, hurricane impact windows provide equivalent protection to accordion shutters and hurricane panels but are nearly indistinguishable from conventional glass windows. One of the most significant advantages is that these windows always stand ready to protect your home in the event of a storm—no manual labor is required.
Hurricane Shutter Panels
Hurricane panels offer exceptional protection and remain the most affordable option for satisfactory hurricane protection. Although in more recent years, they have fallen out of favor due to their high-labor requirement.
In most cases, hurricane panels must be stored when not in use and will take up space in your garage or shed. When a hurricane approaches, most Floridians should expect 4-8 hours of labor to get their hurricane panels in working order to protect their home.
How to choose the right type of hurricane protection for your home
Our average recommendation to our customers is to weigh the convenience of hurricane windows with the potential cost of hurricane panels and accordion shutters.
In most cases, hurricane panels are the cheapest option, while accordion shutters cost 10-20% more on average, and hurricane impact windows can cost 3.5 times as much as accordion shutters. With this being said, most customers opt to move forward with accordion shutters or hurricane-impact windows for their hurricane protection.
If you want more information on choosing the best hurricane protection system for your needs, please check out our dedicated article on Accordion Shutters vs. Impact Windows.
We are South Florida’s most trusted name in hurricane protection. For over 30 years, we have helped over 25,000 families claim peace of mind. Please contact our hurricane protection specialists for a free no-obligation consultation, and see how we can help you with your hurricane protection.
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This article is not kept up to date with current pricing.
Please contact us for the most up-to-date pricing.