With the Atlantic hurricane season officially upon us, now is the best time to get your home, business, and family prepared for what is expected to be another active season. NOAA predicts a hurricane season with a 65% chance of above-normal storm occurrence, with three to six major hurricanes (classified as category 3, 4, or 5) making landfall this season. Most Floridians know the basics of hurricane preparation, yet not every home is properly protected from the damage that can occur during these dangerous storms.
Home and business owners are responsible for knowing hurricane shutter requirements in Florida, which are serious and regulated – and for good reason. These state requirements must be followed on all buildings, including residential and non-residential properties. To meet the current Florida building code for hurricane shutters, buildings must be designed to stand up to impacts from high-wind debris across the southern portion of the Sunshine State and through much of the panhandle.
Hurricane Shutter Requirements in Florida
Though technically, there is no Florida hurricane shutter law, regulations and codes exist for Florida buildings. Currently, two approved options can be used when meeting the Florida building code for hurricane preparedness. The first option is for all windows and doors to be covered entirely with high-impact storm shutters. These can be metal panels, roll-down or accordion styles, and even extra-strong fabric. The other option is to replace all exterior opening glass (windows and doors) with impact-resistant glass. This glass is considered shatter-resistant and is similar to what is required in vehicles – two panels of glass with a film in between for safety and stability.
These hurricane shutter requirements are especially impactful in elevated wind-borne debris regions where dangers are at their highest. In addition to the large numbers of coastal homes, Miami-Dade, Broward County, and Coastal Palm Beach County in South Florida are considered high wind-borne debris areas. Points up to five miles inland, and even further in some areas, can be subject to high-velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ) building codes. Knowing the specific requirements in your area is imperative to help keep your home and property safe.
HVHZ-approved products require more in-depth testing to ensure the quality of products will withstand the 140–180 mph wind speeds seen in those designated areas. For impact-resistant glass or window covering to meet the HVHZ standards, they must go through large and small missile testing. For example, a six-foot-long 2×4 weighing roughly nine pounds will be fired at a speed of 50 feet per second at the opening being tested. The projectile will be fired at both the center and the sides of the window to ensure the product can withstand the possible conditions that may be seen during a hurricane.
Miami-Dade NOA (Notice of Acceptance)
Due to the HVHZ building codes requiring heightened protections, those in Miami-Dade County are subject to even stricter requirements. All shutter and impact-resistant glass protection must meet the Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOA) regulations. The Miami-Dade NOA means that materials covering windows and doors have been through rigorous testing and comply with the highest industry standards of hurricane shutter protection.
All products used on buildings in HVHZ areas like Miami-Dade must be approved for use in Miami-Dade NOA #12-1004.02 and certified for use with Florida Building Code approval #15208, Florida High-Velocity Hurricane Zone Approval #17661. Always check with companies and/or contractors to ensure that products and workmanship carry the correct certification for your area.
Hurricane Shutter Installation Code
In addition to using strong and safe regulation materials, hurricane shutter insulation must be done correctly according to the hurricane shutter installation code. Shutters and coverings are useless if they are not correctly installed and could cause problems with getting claims through insurance companies if damage does occur. All coverings must have a one-inch gap between the shutter and glass across the entire surface of the opening. This allows maximum deflection if any debris strikes the covering.
Proper fit is crucial to the correct use of window and door coverings. If incorrect sizing leads to gaps, major damage can occur. Once hurricane winds have entered a structure via a pierced window or door, all the pressure from that wind begins pushing outward on the interior walls of your building. Upward pressure can also push on the roof. This extreme pressure can lead to a failed roof and exposed interior, leaving the valuables within your home or business vulnerable.
The Right Shutters Can Help Homeowners (And Insurance Agencies)
Following hurricane shutter requirements is a proactive and smart choice for preparing your home or business this hurricane season. It helps protect your valuables from catastrophic hurricane damage, as seen in recent hurricane seasons. It also secures your physical dwelling. If you do not have proper coverings and severe damage occurs, getting your home repaired quickly and efficiently will be a challenge. Contractors and repair companies will likely have backlogs of other homes and businesses needing the same work completed. This could mean you are out of your home or building for months.
Purchasing and maintaining Miami-Dade NOA-approved hurricane shutters is typically much less than the cost of paying the deductible for repairs after hurricane damage is assessed through insurance. Adding HVHZ-approved hurricane shutters is also highly cost-effective, especially considering the cost of repairs even with hurricane insurance. A typical deductible of 2%–10% can cost upward of $20,000 for the average three-bedroom and two-bath home in southern Florida.
Protecting your home and business is of the highest priority. Follow all Florida regulations while keeping your insurance rates where they should be. With this information about the hurricane shutter requirements in Florida, you can research the best products to ensure that this hurricane season will not cost you for years to come.