Last year, three powerful hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — caused widespread damage in the U.S. and Caribbean. During National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 6-12), door and window dealers are urged to remind homeowners in coastal areas that they need to evaluate their properties and make sure their homes are ready to withstand a major storm.

Before a hurricane appears, it’s crucial to educate homeowners about strong and secure doors and windows. If  they’re compromised during severe weather, then hurricane-force winds can enter the structure and cause massive damage.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 destroyed 25,524 homes in South Florida and damaged 101,241 others. Many structures had their roofs blown completely off, an effect directly linked to doors or windows that were damaged after being struck by wind-blown debris.

A broken door or window on the wall facing hurricane-force winds greatly increases the risk of this happening because it causes a dramatic change in pressure inside the home, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Because of that, construction researchers determined that it’s important to prevent windows from shattering and doors from flying open, leading to advances in glass and hardware manufacturing.

In the aftermath of Andrew, South Florida Building Code (SFBC) officials adopted the first mandatory glazing impact standards in the United States, according to a 2003 report from DWM.  They were based on Australian standards that were developed after a devastating cyclone hit that country in 1974.

Today, impact-resistant windows are manufactured by dozens of companies and are sold from Texas to Maine, but the top market remains Florida. According to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association’s  2015/2016 Study of the U.S. Market for Windows, Doors and Skylights, that state represents 68 percent of the total U.S. market for residential impact windows.

“Because there were so many severe hurricane situations in 2017, it’s important to perform a thorough check now of a home’s exterior,” says Tim Carter, founder and president of AsktheBuilder.com. “While a home may have held up well during last year’s weather, the strength of a home’s key exterior products may have been compromised. It’s smart for homeowners to hire a professional to evaluate their roof and other entry/opening areas of the home if they need to be fixed or replaced before the 2018 hurricane season,” which begins on June 1.

In April, Colorado State University issued its preliminary forecast for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. It predicts that 14 named storms will develop. Seven could become hurricanes, and three of those are expected to be major hurricanes.

Windows

When it comes to a home, windows can make up almost half the exterior. That’s why it’s important to inform homeowners about windows that are constructed for their specific geographic needs. In hurricane-prone areas, windows built to meet coastal building codes are critical. Impact-resistant windows offer exceptional storm protection, not just from wind and rain, but also from windborne debris.

“During a hurricane, winds can making flying missiles of garbage cans, lawn furniture and tree limbs,” says Carter. “Choosing a window made and certified to resist severe weather is a smart investment for a homeowner.”

Doors

Doors are another at-risk component of a  home. Entryways into the home are vulnerable to impact from flying debris from hurricane-force winds.

Jim Bell, the windstorm coordinator for Assa Abloy, said hardware is critical for protecting life and property during a hurricane.

“The door itself is rarely the cause of failure,” he said. “Where we see failure is at the door-hardware connection,” with 99 percent of failures coming at the latch point. “Without the hardware, the door is just a tripping hazard.”

Before the onset of hurricane season 2018, homeowners are encouraged to make the time to evaluate the structures where they live and work. Door and window dealers can educate them about making upgrades and changes now so they can be prepared for upcoming storms.

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