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The Atlantic hurricane season lasts, on average, from June to November. This means that for six months out of the year, millions of Americans live in the line of fire of massive superstorms featuring gale force winds, driving rain, and intense flooding. While people can evacuate their homes if a storm brews on the horizon, they can’t take their homes–or their windows–with them to safety. Windows can be easily damaged during hurricanes: They can be struck by debris and shatter or they can be knocked out of their frames by strong winds. Worse still, hurricane winds that blow into your house through broken windows can exert enough pressure to blow out your roof and cause the walls of your home to collapse, making window security a serious concern for the millions of homeowners who live in hurricane zones.

Many people try taping their windows to reinforce them against hurricanes, but this is ineffective because tape does not have the strength to deflect heavy debris carried by hurricane winds that can collide into them. This is also the case with commercially available glass films, which can keep window glass from shattering but do nothing to actual hold the window itself in place in the walls of your home.

Instead of tape or films, consider using plywood or storm shutters to protect your windows in the event of a hurricane. Plywood is the least expensive choice: Select a variety that is at least 5/8 of an inch thick and that stretches eight inches wider on every side than the window you need to cover so that you have space to drill in bolts. You can also use heavy-duty anchors and braces to further secure plywood protection on your home. Plywood, however, does have negative side effects, such as blocking light from entering your home and the fact that plywood covers can only be applied at the last minute. Similar to plywood–although noticeably more expensive–are storm shutters, which are permanently installed, are easy to operate, and allow light into your home.

Another option is installing windows with high-impact glass, which will resist damage from most objects that may collide into your home during a storm and which will be permanently in place, so there’s no need to frantically put them up once the wind and rain starts.

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