From June through November, people who live in the heavily populated coastal areas along the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico study weather forecasts with particular concern. During this period, Atlantic hurricane season, conditions are ripe for catastrophic storms that can bring loss of life and property destruction.
Forecasting technology, which can help weather scientists identify and locate the strength and path of a tropical storm, accounts for fewer people being in harm’s way of the storm than even a few decades ago. This means more lives are saved. However, the winds and flooding of even a moderate hurricane can destroy neighborhoods and entire cities, resulting in massive expenses and inconvenience for homeowners and businesses.
Experts have noted that one of the most dangerous aspects of hurricanes is destruction of buildings from flying debris. As with the technology of meteorology, advances in construction materials have been developed to help people who live in these hurricane-prone areas rebuff most of these high-velocity projectiles. One of these “hurricane proof” materials seem to be counterintuitive, at first glance.
A Clear Advantage
Because of its transparency, you might think that glass would fare poorly against debris flung at hurricane speed. But a special type of glass, surprisingly, might be among your best defenses.
The LightWise Architectural Systems glass blocks, available from Acme Brick have both an aesthetic and a practical purpose. The natural light passing through these blocks is visually pleasing, and they can enable windows to rebuff debris projectiles from all but the most powerful hurricanes.
Do you live or own commercial buildings in a hurricane-prone area? Are you concerned about the safety of your home or business? Find out more about hurricane-resistant glass blocks by clicking here.
Light Years Ahead of Conventional Windows
Steve Weddle of Acme Brick consults with businesses, architects, builders, and homeowners who have property in the hurricane-prone regions. He is an expert on how glass blocks can protect the structures from storms that can cause damaging debris projectiles.
“The technology of manufacturing glass blocks is light-years from where it was just a few years ago,” Weddle said. “We offer one of the best hurricane - resistant glass blocks for windows in the world. They are the LightWise Architectural Systems glass blocks, manufactured by Seves Glass Block.
“These glass blocks are comprised of two thick-face shells that are fused together during the manufacturing process (individual glass blocks are nominally 8” square by 4” thick). Unlike standard glass blocks, these thick-face glass blocks are almost indestructible and, when installed in window frames, they can resist enormous force.”
“They are ideal for commercial applications where beauty, light transmission and protection against hurricane-force winds and debris are important. These glass blocks windows have passed the large impact tests recognized by the International Building Code, Florida and Dade County requirements and are approved for use in coastal areas.”
The benefits of LightWise Architectural Systems glass block include:
- Visually stunning, prefabricated panels that are easy to install
- Customizable to meet project needs
- No need for shutters
- Useful for “daylighting” strategies and can contribute to LEED points for the building
- Protects against hurricane force winds and flying debris
- Available with a range of visibility and privacy options
- Graffiti-resistant, damage-resistant and easy to clean
- Greater security than conventional windows
More Tips to Protect Your Property from Hurricanes
While storm-resistant windows will help secure a coastal property from flying debris, there are a few other, common-sense ways to protect a home or business from damage. According to this article, it is important to “keep your landscape free of debris. Prune trees and remove dead branches well before the hurricane shows up. Also remove any patio furniture and other loose items outside that can get blown around.”
Since hurricane-force winds can pull buildings apart, “roof structures are particularly prone to being sent flying, a danger to everyone and everything around. Using the correct, and in many places code-mandated, construction fastening system is a must. From tie-downs to lateral anchors, from hold-downs to embedded connectors, the choice of fastener will vary by location and type of construction.”
These experts note that a primary weak spot for hurricane winds is the garage door. If this door is compromised, it can give way and the roof of the home can be torn off. It is important for the garage door to be installed to withstand this force or an additional brace added.
This article notes, “Try to keep your basement or crawl space dry with a more-than-basic drainage and sump pump system. Create redundancy in the system with two drain tile layers as well as battery backup, or better yet, have sump pumps backed with emergency power.”
Finally, if the property owner is considering building a new home, “in some coastal areas, building codes require that the structure be raised. While garages and storage spaces can be placed at the ground floors of these homes, the construction should be such that the structure does not block a storm surge.”
A Timeless Struggle Against a Force of Nature
Scientists speculate that the turbulent winds of hurricanes have affected planet Earth since it first cooled, after the “Big Bang” cosmic explosion. Early humans learned that stronger structures were necessary to survive these regular weather events and this realization led to the development of sturdy, hurricane-resistant construction materials such as brick. For thousands of years, brick has been a shelter from the storm. Now, the list of protective materials has expanded.
Windows and walls made of glass blocks, fused together by the massive heat of a kiln, are simply the next step in the evolution of shields against nature’s fury.
If you would like more information on making your home or business safer from the winds and flying debris of hurricanes, click here and talk to an Acme Brick associate.