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At What Point Do You Put Up Hurricane Shutters?

Shutters take time to put up and make homes feel like caves – but waiting too long is a mistake. Expert advice: Start once the NHC declares an area hurricane watch.

MIAMI – Ian is making a trek toward Florida. The state is in the cone of concern.

That means we are talking about, or at least thinking about, putting up our hurricane shutters.

Is now the time to do that? Or is it best to wait a bit? Or is it even necessary given the track?

Here’s a guide: When should you shutter?

We’ve heard about the potential threat to South Florida and the Keys from a likely strong Hurricane Ian for days and many are wondering: When do I put up my hurricane shutters? Or have someone else – like my landlord or condo association – do it for me?

The always answer from the National Hurricane Center is you should start to put up storm shutters when a hurricane watch is issued for where you live. A hurricane watch is issued two days ahead of a storm based on when hurricane conditions are expected to begin in an area within 48 hours.

So … Ian. And South Florida.

“Based off the current forecast, all of that preparation should be done by Monday night, Monday evening,” Jamie Rhome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, said Saturday morning.

“But it remains to be seen if we’ll ever need a hurricane watch for South Florida, which portions of South Florida may be under a watch, so we can’t say that you got to put up your shutters on day X, Y or Z. But, as people were thinking about the possibility of shuttering, their current timeline is if it were to be needed it would need to be completed by Monday sunset,” Rhome said.

Monitor reports on the storm’s progress. For instance, the Keys could see conditions deteriorate sooner than, say, Palm Beach, if Ian’s track clings closer to the island chain.

People’s needs may differ, of course. Some have attached hurricane shutters to their homes that can be quickly drawn in a matter of minutes. Others may have more cumbersome aluminum slats that need to be placed and screwed onto a frame. And that takes effort and, for some, may require aid from a family member, neighbor or friend.

Who is responsible for putting shutters up?

The responsibility can vary widely. If you’re the sole owner of the property and don’t rent or live in a condo association, then it’s on you to protect your home.

If you rent, often your landlord will want to protect their property and may work with you to secure the home. Some condo associations put up shutters. Others leave it to the residents to protect their own units. Check your association’s documents if you aren’t sure – but you were probably made aware of storm policies when you moved in to the community. Your association manager may also send out emails with hurricane advice and rules for where you live.

A hurricane warning is when hurricane conditions are expected in 36 hours. By this point, you should have your shutters in place.

As for masking tape? Don’t do it. Masking tape does not protect your windows from hurricane-force winds, and only leaves an unsightly mess if the storm bypasses your neighborhood. So, again for those in the back rows, no tape!

“Everybody’s situation is gonna be a little different,” Rhome said.

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