2010 is predicted to be a contender when it comes to hurricanes; the NOAA has forecasted a busy hurricane season and so far, their forecast is right on with June's Hurricane Alex being the earliest Atlantic hurricane since 1966.

In 2009, Advanced Restoration had a call for Water Damage Clearwater in where the homeowner's windows were the culprits to allowing heavy rainwater to cause some serious water damage in the home. If only there had been a way to avoid the damage…

Plywood Shutters

Fortunately for all homeowners, there are a number of ways to help protect your windows during a storm. Although homeowners might be familiar with the concept of covering up your windows with plywood, there are disadvantages to using it and it will not prevent windows from shattering. The NOAA remarks that most issues with plywood occur because the wood was not fastened properly and blows off during a hurricane. If a homeowner is serious about hurricane protection, there are products made specifically to shield your home during a storm or hurricane.

Products may or may not be submitted for vigorous testing (which is voluntary). Most experts suggest that you purchase products that have undergone approval testing by Miami-Dad County. Established by Miami-Dade County after the havoc caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Miami-Dade testing regarded as expecting manufacturers to meet higher standards than that of some other national product-certification groups. Products that have been certified by Miami-Dade will possess a certification sticker that states, "Miami-Dade approved". If there is no sticker, ask to see documentation of the certification. Miami-Dade provides an online list of products it has certified. Go to www.miamidade.gov. Search for "Approved products."

While experts also caution that product behavior during a test does not necessarily show how a product will behave during an actually hurricane, it is generally regarded that products intended to help protect homes from hurricanes will provide more protection that choosing to utilize no protection.

Window options include: impact-resistant shutters, panels, wind screen and impact-resistant glass. Recently, manufactures have begun to redesign their shutters so as to allow light in and thus provide homeowners who might be boarded up for lengthy periods of time some reprieve.

There are generally four types of shutters available: colonial, full view Bahamas, roll-down and accordion.

Colonial Shutters

Accordion shutters are typically used to cover sliding glass doors.

Accordion Shutters

Colonials rend to be more decorative while Bahamas tend to offer better air and light circulation.

Bahama Shutters

Roll Down shutters can be either hand cranked or motorized and tend to run the most expensive, around $65/sq. ft.

Roll Down Shutters

Shutters can also be installed over doors to increase protection. Shutters must be impact-resistant to be effective. To determine their strength, the NOAA encourages homeowners to lean against the shutters. Shutters should not move. Also, shutters must be properly installed for maximum protection.

Another option for hurricane protection are panels, which tend to run significantly less in price per square foot.

Hurricane Panels

Panels are offered in aluminum, Lexan (see-through), corrugated plastic and fabric.

Fabric Panels

Fabric panels are typically made of woven PVC or other polyethylene fibers. Fabric panels do not meet the impact certification test and will not protect your window from shattering but will protect your home from rain. Likewise, corrugated plastic panels and plywood do not meet the impact certification test.

Another budget conscious buy is mesh wind screen.

Mesh screen

This is an option for protecting large expanses of glass such as sliding glass doors. The mesh is made to withstand a high force of wind and thus, protect the glass to a certain degree from shattering. However, it will not provide the degree of safety or protection from water damage that accordion shutters would.

Finally, homeowners may want con consider investing in impact-resistant windows.

Impact Resistant Windows

Also at the high end of the budget, starting around $60/sq. ft., there are two types of impact-resistant windows which must go through strict impact certification testing. The best impact-resistant window is made of two panes of laminated heavy glass sandwiched around a middle layer of heavy polyvinyl. The glass is set within a heavy duty frame to help keep your window anchored. The other type of impact-resistant window is less hardy and is simply a shatter-resistant film that is placed over the window to help keep the window in place should it be broken. Impact-resistant windows come with the benefits of being see-through and the fact that you don't have to do anything if a storm comes unlike shutters or panels which require action. If there is any damage to the exterior layer of the window, it can be easily repaired after the storm passes.

Because a broken window offers an entry way for rain and debris during a hurricane, protecting your windows can go a long way to preventing what happened with the water damage Clearwater story to your home. Florida has even enacted new building codes to ensure that new developments in high-velocity hurricane zones will be built with impact-resistant windows and/or permanent shutters. For homeowners who live in a home without any hurricane proofing, adding a feature like shutters to your windows or even replacing them with impact-resistant glass can not only offer you the protection you need, but also, peace of mind.