What should I have in my new home for storm protection?

Windows and Doors

It is always your preference as to which of the following combinations you need or prefer. Here are the typical options you will select from:

  1. Impact resistant glass windows, impact resistant exterior doors, impact resistant garage doors. The window frames may be vinyl or aluminum. Insulated glass is not required. Low-e is not required but preferred for energy efficiency. 
  2. Non-Impact glass and doors, only within the lanai area, Kevlar roll down shutters to enclose lanai. All remaining areas to be impact resistant as mentioned in option 1.
  3. Non-impact glass and doors on entire home, removable aluminum shutters (kept in garage) or decorate impact shutters (several on the market). 

Generator Interlock Kit vs. Transfer Switch

An interlock needs a person to operate it. They cost less, and the setup can usually feed power to any circuit in the panel (but if you overload the generator input the generator breaker will trip.) This is also controlled manually, by the user turning other breakers off and on. Any breaker can be used. 

A transfer switch can be (and usually is) automatic. They cost more, in general. A transfer switch setup can only feed specific circuits, since automatic operation means there's nobody to turn off circuits to shed load, so the loads connected to the generator must be less than or equal to what the generator can supply, if all are operating. You will likely have only 6 to 8 circuits available. If your main electrical panel is installed in your garage, you really don't need a power inlet box installed outside. You simply need at least a 25-foot power cord and a manual transfer switch with an outlet. Instead of using a power inlet box, connect the generator directly into the transfer switch through the garage. Just make sure that your generator is far enough away from the house to avoid inhaling any fumes. 

While selecting your generator, you may ask yourself if you want one that powers the whole house or a limited amount of circuits. Be sure to look at running watts, starting watts, plug availability, warranty, portable vs permanent and gallon size.

Portable generators must run outside since they emit deadly carbon monoxide gas. The trick is getting the electricity safely inside the house. 

When building new, ask your builder if they will include a whole house generator and hookup!

More frequently asked questions

All Other Products

The Florida Building Code (FBC) is a set of standards designed by the US state of Florida for buildings. Many regulations and guidelines distributed are important benchmarks regarding hurricane protection. Miami-Dade County was the first in Florida to certify hurricane resistant standards for structures which the Florida Building Code subsequently enacted across all requirements for Hurricane resistant buildings. Many other states reference the requirements set in the Florida Building codes, or have developed their own requirements for hurricanes. 

Lee and Collier Counties are required to participate within the Miami-Dade building code, in which is the highest in the state of Florida. These codes call for shatterproof windows, fortified roofs and reinforced concrete pillars, among other specifications. Updated codes add requirements for minimum elevations above expected flood levels. 

  1. Foundation & Roof Trusses -  Wind acting on the roof surfaces of a building can cause negative pressures that create a lifting force sufficient to lift the roof off the building. Once this occurs, the building is weakened considerably and the rest of the building will likely fail as well. To minimize this vulnerability, the upper structure ought to be anchored through the walls to the foundation. Several methods can be used to anchor the roof. Typically, roof trusses are "toenailed" into the top of the walls, which provide insufficient force to resist high winds. Hurricane ties nail into the wall and wrap over the trusses provide higher force resistance. 
  2. Roof Sheathing - The codes have required the use of plywood in roof construction and have prohibited the substitution of particle board, and instead of roofing nails, staples are required.  Wood has a relatively high degree of flexibility which can be beneficial under certain building stresses. 
  3. Windows - They can be constructed with plastic panes, shatterproof glass, or glass with protective membranes. The panes are often more firmly attached than normal window panes, including using screws or bolts through the edges of larger panes. Tapcons are used to fasten windows with the concrete structure surrounding. Building openings such as garage doors and windows are often weak points susceptible to failure by wind pressure and blowing debris. Once failure occurs, wind pressure builds up inside the building resulting in the roof lifting off the building. Hurricane shutters can provide protection. 
  4. Roof fortification -  Serious failures of roofs often have little to do with what is on top, but rather how all of it is put together.  Modern codes in severe storm areas require the use of tie-downs and straps or brackets that hold the rafters to the walls and the walls to the foundations.  These codes are much like seismic codes for earthquake prone areas. When storms are severe, hurricane force winds can reduce the pressure above a roof, lifting the roof. This is called the Bernoulli effect and has turned many homes into open-air structures. If your home is old, the rafters may be simply toe-nailed to the wall’s top plates. This simple building method does not provide much resistance to uplift that keeps a roof on during severe conditions.Most catastrophic failures in intense storms are due to some variation of losing the roof sheathing, with or without the rafters attached. The gable ends of homes are especially vulnerable. Once this layer is gone, water from wind driven rain can completely destroy the homes interior. Often the loss of the ceiling joists or trusses will cause a cascade failure of the walls as well.  Another problem that occurs with the loss of the roofs sheathing is that it allows the wind to get a better grip on the home and can cause walls and other areas of roofing to “blow out.”  If you are re-roofing, it is a good ideal to add additional fasteners to the decking prior to installing the roof covering.  Tie straps and additional structural elements can often be added in attic spaces as well. While these measures can improve the home’s strength, and reduce potential storm damage, they may fall short of current local building codes. 
  5. Doors -  Doors can be blown into the house by wind causing potential. Installing them with an outswing remedies this scenario.
  6. Reinforced concrete pillars - Concrete block walls are reinforced with steel and poured concrete. (If you have installed permanent anchors for shutter on your windows and found that the blocks on both sides of your windows are hollow, you probably have un-reinforced or at least under-reinforced walls and some additional checks would be a good idea.)
  7. Higher elevation -  Waves along coastal areas can destroy a building. Buildings should preferably be built on high ground in order to avoid waves. If waves can reach the building site, the building ought to be elevated on steel, concrete, or wooden pilings or anchored to solid rock. 
  8. Roof -  Clay tiles work for coastal living because they will not deteriorate from salt spray, plus clay tiles do hold up well to winds at 100+ mph. Installation benefits from proper flashing to ensure water stays above the tile. Clay tiles usually carry a 30 year warranty, and lasting up to 50 to 100 years is fairly common.  Metal standing seam 26 gauge, galvalume steel panels offer great resistance to sea spray corrosion. Metal doesn’t burn, insects won’t feast on it, and an aluminum based roofing or coating (aka galvalume) will resist the corrosion that salt can throw at a home. Typically, metal roofing is rated to withstand winds between 110 mph and 160 mph. With standing seam panels, there is no crevice along the exposed roof for leaks to develop, which is always to concern for tiled roofing.  Architectural grade asphalt shingles are rated to withstand wind gusts up 130 MPH or 150 MPH and your best bet for high wind areas. Avoid 3-tab shingles in Florida. They have only a 60 MPH to 70 MPH wind uplift rated roof covering. 
  9. Mobile homes are required to be fastened more securely to their foundations.

“The code isn’t perfect,” said former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate, who led Florida’s emergency management division during the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons. “It’s not always going to provide protection needed, especially for schools, firehouses, 911 centers and other types of critical infrastructure, even though those are critical functions that we should have hardened for wind and flood damage.” 

Depending on the location in each county, the wind load may require the following:

Risk Category I: Buildings & Structures 165 mph

Risk Category II: Buildings & Structures 175 mph

Risk Category III: Buildings & Structures 185 mph 

The Florida Building Code uses the America Society of Civil Engineers Standard (ASCE) Standard 7 as the basis for establishing wind-borne debris regions and wind-borne debris protection. The standard requires builders either to (1) construct buildings that can withstand the additional pressure that results when wind gets into a building through a hole in the wall or broken door or window and pressurizes it (like blowing air into a balloon) or (2) protect glazed openings in walls (e.g., windows and glass doors) from debris borne by high winds (Fla. Building Code Chap. 16).The wind-borne debris protection region is any area where the basic design wind speed is 120 mph or greater and any area within one mile of the coast where the wind speed is less than 120 mph but greater than 110 mph. It includes all of Miami-Dade and Broward County, which are designated as a “high velocity zone,” because of their extreme vulnerability to hurricanes. Buildings in the zone must meet stricter design and construction standards than those that apply to the rest of the wind-borne debris region. The most notable, according to the Florida Building Commission, is the requirement “to protect the overall building (the entire envelope), including windows, with either shutters or impact-resistant glass.”The wind-borne debris region extends about five miles inland in most cases and considerably further in others. But, in the Panhandle region (sections of northern Florida from the Walkula/Franklin County line to the western edge of Escambia County), the legislature designated the wind-borne region as the land within one-mile of the Gulf Coast. Thus, the wind-borne debris protection requirements do not apply to buildings outside the one-mile radius in the Panhandle, regardless of wind speeds. This Panhandle provision (commonly referred to as the “Panhandle exception”), has generated some controversy. Consequently, the state is in the process of changing it “through a multi-staged research program,” according to Rick Dixon of the Florida Department of Community Affairs.