Take a drive through the South Florida suburbs between June and November, and you’re likely to see multiple windows with giant taped X’s across them. It’s not a religious ritual, nor is it some kind of SOS signal you don’t know about. It’s people, making the assumption that a thin piece of sticky paper is going to protect them from hurricane force winds during the Atlantic Hurricane season. If that sounds unreasonable, it’s because it is, and it’s something that way too many people rely on to keep them safe. In reality, it does the exact opposite.
Using thick moving tape, or duct tape, to “protect” your windows creates a sense of false security. It creates the illusion that you and your home are secure, when in fact it’s actually posing an even greater risk.
“The shards can become bigger because they’re being held together,” Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, told CBS News in March 2012. “You’re wasting your time. You’re wasting your money and you’re potentially increasing the danger to your home.”
Although it might seem like a no-brainer, people have a legitimate reason to think that tape could actually help. According to CBS News, taping windows was an advisable practice in hurricane brochures of the 1970’s. It was eliminated from the brochures in the ‘80s, but the practice still happens today. Long-time Floridians who haven’t been put up-to-date probably still think it’s an effective way to protect themselves, even though The Weather Channel insists that tape does absolutely nothing to strengthen the glass.
In an experiment with window testing company Architectural Testing, one of The Weather Channel’s senior hurricane specialists, Bryan Norcross, observed a nine pound, eight-foot-long air cannon shoot a 34 mph two-by-four missile at a taped window to simulate the effects of flying debris during a hurricane. As you might’ve probably guessed, the missile slid right through the glass and the tape.
So, in conclusion, be prepared. Be responsible. Do NOT tape your windows. Buy metal shutters and drill them into the sides of your windows. Buy plywood from your local hardware store and drill those if you don’t have shutters. Both are safe alternatives that are proven to actually work. A shattered window during hurricane force winds is a life threatening situation. Avoid that and board up your windows.
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