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The Dangers of Leaving Your Hurricane Shutters or Screens On All Year Long

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Feb 23, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Hurricane shutters protect your home from wind, rain and flying debris. With Florida’s sometimes unpredictable hurricane conditions, most Floridians would agree that they can’t go without them come storm season!


Because of their necessity, storm shutters are available in a variety of options: from the stylish, permanently affixed Bahama shutters for high-rising windows to the sturdy Accordion shutters for retractable protection. And let’s not forget about cost-effective storm panels or heavy-duty roll-down shutters for larger openings. 

But all too often, people put up or engage their hurricane shutters early, or leave them up all year— either to avoid the hassle of frequent deployment or for other presumed safety reasons. However, keeping your hurricane shutters up and engaged when there isn't a major storm can be dangerous and costly.

Here are four big reasons allowing your hurricane shutters and screens to cover your windows year-round may do more harm than good:

1. Deployed hurricane shutters get in the way of fire rescue missions and can lead to larger-scale fire destruction.

When your shutters are up and engaged, they block your windows and keep your home tightly sealed. Remember, storm shutters are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. If they can keep 100+ mph winds and flying debris from entering your home, they can also keep firefighters from entering your home and block spray-points needed to extinguish a blaze. 

There have been several instances in Florida where firefighters haven't been able to get into burning homes due to hurricane shutters being deployed outside of storm season. 

One firefighter told Florida Today why that is… "One, it blocks our view. It also impedes the airflow, which doesn't allow smoke or the contents of combustion to exit the house," Battalion Chief Gaius Hall shared. While firefighters typically have the equipment they need to break down doors or remove hurricane coverings over windows, this just adds more time to their rescue mission— precious time that those caught in a fire often don’t have to spare.

Fire rescue authorities have stressed for years that window coverings such as hurricane shutters should only be engaged when storms are threatening, such as right after a hurricane watch is announced and a hurricane is on its way. 

2. While it’s assumed that hurricane shutters improve your security, they could actually invite burglars if permanently deployed. 

Many storm solution providers use the added security features of hurricane shutters as an upsell when advertising their products. While it is true that these heavy-duty window coverings make it harder for criminals to break in through your windows, there’s one big reason leaving your storm shutters continually up could backfire. 

Keeping up your hurricane shutters engaged all year can actually attract burglars instead of deterring them, leading them to believe no one is home. If they know there’s no storm on the horizon, they may assume you’re a snowbird who’s out of town and try to break in through your doors instead. Leaving your shutters up also blocks your view from the outside world when you are home, limiting your ability to catch suspicious activity in action.

Storm Panels

3. Constantly opened hurricane shutters have a shorter lifespan. 

Different shutter types are designed for different purposes. While some shutters like Bahamas are specially intended to act as permanent fixtures over a window, they are typically only used on high-rising windows and made from stronger, weather-proof materials.

Other shutters like roll down or Accordion shutters fold up and hide away in protective housing when not engaged, sheltering them from Mother Nature when not needed. While they are designed to withstand blunt force and winds during a storm, many aren’t intended to withstand long-term sun exposure and month-after-month weather conditions. By leaving them constantly deployed over your windows, you may be cutting down on their overall lifespan.

Same goes with storm panels, which are meant to be removed and stored safely in your garage during the off-season— only to be put up when needed come a storm. 

4. Keeping your shutters open all year long means more maintenance (and probably hidden costs!) 

Because most storm shutters weren’t made to withstand long-term exposure to Florida’s harsh sunshine, extreme temperatures, and corrosive, salty conditions, engaging them all year long is sure to mean more maintenance work on your part.

To avoid grime build-up, you’ll have to clean them more often. And while you might think leaving them open means you won’t have to clean the windows behind them, that’s not the case! Trapping excess moisture between the shutter and glass might lead to bigger problems later. 

If your shutters are made of metal materials, long-term outdoor exposure may lead to rust or corrosion, while plastic materials may crack from excessive sun damage. Really, your best bet is to only use your hurricane shutters when they’re needed for an actual hurricane! 

The Best Time to Deploy & Remove Hurricane Shutters

Hurricane shutters, when used correctly, are one of the smartest investments you can make for your family’s safety. But you should only deploy your storm shutters when there's an actual threat of a hurricane hitting your area. 

Florida’s hurricane season officially begins in June and runs through November 30, according to The Florida Climate Center. With this in mind, it’s crucial that you pay attention to the news, radio and other forms of communication during these months. If you believe a hurricane is headed your way, put up your hurricane panels or engage your other storm shutters (i.e. deploy your roll down shutters or Accordions).

After a storm passes, you should take down your shutters or retract them in their protective hooded housing as soon as your area is safe.

Tired of the Shutter Hassle?

If you’re sick of putting up your storm shutters or opening and closing them every hurricane watch, you’re not alone.

Many Floridians opt to replace their windows with hurricane-resistant windows instead. Storm windows won’t obstruct the view of your beautiful property, but you can rest assured knowing they’ll mean less hurricane prep before the next storm.

Thinking about making the switch? Here are a few questions to help you choose between impact glass and hurricane shutters.

Topics: Hurricane Shutters