Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.® Debunks the Five Most Dangerous Hurricane Preparedness Myths

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FLASH debunks the "masking tape myth" and other commonly held myths associated with hurricane preparedness. Myths about opening windows to equalize pressure, the use of candles and sandbags are also covered.

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.

Shocking numbers of people still believe that placing masking tape over windows is a good idea...The fact is that the masking tape...can heighten the risk.
Leslie Chapman-Henderson
FLASH President and CEO

As 2011 hurricane season peaks with the passing of Hurricane Irene and the looming threat of Tropical Storm Katia, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH®), the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters, is stepping up its efforts to stamp out five of the most dangerous hurricane preparedness myths.

FLASH consistently shares with consumers everything they should do to ready themselves for hurricanes and other disasters. Today, the organization shares what we should NOT do.

"Shocking numbers of people still believe that placing masking tape over windows is a good idea and can help prevent damage during storms,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, FLASH President and CEO. “The fact is that the masking tape, duct tape and even some window films can heighten risk by creating larger, more dangerous shards. With more storms to confront this year, we are focused on debunking this potentially deadly myth and four others so we can help consumers better understand how to safely protect their families and their homes," she added.

The FLASH top five most dangerous and deadly storm preparation myths that continue to threaten families and their homes include:

MYTH #1: Masking tape, duct tape or window film prevents damage and protects families.

FACT: Placing tape on glass is a waste of time. Masking tape does not protect windows from wind-borne debris. Some believe tape or film may help keep broken glass shards from dispersing. This is wrong. When high winds or projectiles hit windows, masking tape can and has caused large, taped segments of glass to blow into homes causing injury to those in the path. Also, taping windows wastes precious time that could be used for more effective storm preparations, never mind how much of a mess tape is to clean up. To provide effective protection, all windows and openings such as entry doors, garage doors, and gable end vents should be covered with tested and approved panels or shutters, or be built of impact-resistant materials. Homes without permanent hurricane protection can be adequately protected on a temporary basis with properly placed 5/8” plywood in an emergency.

MYTH #2: Light candles if power goes out.

FACT: Never use candles or gas or oil lanterns during a storm; they increase risk of fire or ignition of damaged, leaking gas lines. If a fire starts in your home during the storm, firefighters may not be able to respond. Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns and canned heat. Never use a barbecue grill indoors.

MYTH #3: Crack or open windows to allow wind pressure inside the house thus equalizing the pressure outside and preventing damage.

FACT: Opening windows simply allows the wind, debris and rain to enter the home. It’s a myth that has perpetuated because of the way buildings appear to fail in high winds. Today, experts and wind scientists agree that the most important thing to do is keep all windows and doors closed to prevent wind from entering and causing internal pressurization.

MYTH #4: Protect only windows and doors facing the ocean.

FACT: Wind can come from any direction or angle and may change direction quickly. Don’t play the prediction game. Instead, use approved panels or shutters. Impact-resistant windows, shutters and doors should have a proof of compliance identified on a sticker or label or imprinted into the product. Check to be sure your shutters are working properly and fit securely.

MYTH #5: Sandbags can prevent water from entering a home.

FACT: Sandbags may channel or direct water away from a home, but only if they are properly filled, placed and maintained. Fill sandbags only half full, tap into place and limit placement to three layers.

For more hurricane and other disaster safety tips, visit the FLASH website at http://www.flash.org. Also, get timely safety tips to ensure that you and your family are always well protected from natural and manmade disasters by subscribing to the new FLASH blog, Protect Your Home in a FLASH, at http://www.protect-your-home.org.


Tallahassee, FL-based Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.® (FLASH), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disasters. FLASH collaborates with more than 100 innovative and diverse partners that share its vision of making America a more disaster-resistant nation including: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Division of Emergency Management, The Home Depot®, International Code Council, National Weather Service, RenaissanceRe, Simpson Strong-Tie®, State Farm®, USAA®, and WeatherPredict Consulting, Inc. In 2008, FLASH opened the interactive weather experience: StormStruck®: A Tale of Two Homes in Orlando, FL. Learn more about FLASH and gain access to its free consumer resources by visiting http://www.flash.org or calling (877) 221-SAFE (7233).


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