During a hailstorm, it’s natural to wonder about the safety of being near windows and skylights. After all, those icy projectiles can cause serious damage to anything in their path. In this article, we explore whether you should stay away from these vulnerable spots when the heavens unleash their frozen fury. So, put your mind at ease and let’s find out if you should seek shelter from hail or stand bravely by the glass.
What is a hailstorm?
A hailstorm refers to a weather phenomenon where small or large balls of ice known as hailstones fall from the sky. These hailstones are formed within thunderstorm clouds and are composed of layers of ice that can vary in shape and size. Hailstorms usually occur during severe thunderstorms and can pose a significant risk to both property and personal safety.
Definition of a hailstorm
A hailstorm is a type of weather event characterized by the falling of hailstones, which are frozen precipitation formed within thunderstorm clouds. These hailstones vary in size, ranging from small pellets to larger, more destructive stones. Hailstorms are often accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain, and thunder and lightning.
Formation of hailstones
Hailstones are formed through a complex process that occurs within thunderstorm clouds. The process begins with the presence of strong updrafts, which carry raindrops upward into the colder regions of the cloud where temperatures are below freezing. As these raindrops are lifted higher, they encounter supercooled water droplets that freeze upon contact, forming the initial layer of ice around the hailstone. This process is repeated multiple times as the hailstone is carried by the updrafts, growing larger with each encounter with supercooled water droplets. Eventually, the hailstone becomes too heavy for the updrafts to support, causing it to fall to the ground during the hailstorm.
Risk of windows and skylights during a hailstorm
Windows and skylights as vulnerable areas
Windows and skylights are particularly vulnerable areas during a hailstorm due to their large surface area and relatively fragile nature. Unlike the solid structure of roofs or walls, windows and skylights are made of materials that are more prone to damage from the impact of hailstones. Additionally, their flat or angled surfaces make them an easy target for hailstones, increasing the risk of potential damage.
Potential damages to windows and skylights
Hailstones can cause various types of damage to windows and skylights, depending on their size and velocity. Smaller hailstones may lead to minor cosmetic damages, such as dents or scratches on window frames or skylight surfaces. However, larger hailstones can cause more severe damage, including cracks or shattering of glass windows and skylights. This damage not only poses a risk to the structural integrity of the window or skylight but also increases the chances of water leakage, further exacerbating the potential damage to the interior of the building.
Safety precautions during a hailstorm
During a hailstorm, it is crucial to stay indoors to ensure personal safety. Seek shelter in a sturdy building or a designated safe area within your home. Avoid going outside or standing near windows and skylights, as this increases the risk of injury from flying glass or debris.
Stay away from windows and skylights
To minimize the risk of injury, it is important to stay away from windows and skylights during a hailstorm. Even if the glass does not shatter, the impact of hailstones on the surface can cause it to break and potentially injure those nearby. Position yourself in a part of the room that is farthest away from windows and skylights.
Seek shelter in a windowless room
If possible, seek shelter in a windowless room during a hailstorm. This provides an additional layer of protection from the potential impact of hailstones. Interior rooms on the lowest level of a building, such as a basement or an inner hallway, are often the safest options.
Window and skylight materials
One way to minimize the vulnerability of windows and skylights to hail damage is by using impact-resistant glass. This type of glass is specifically designed to withstand the impact of hailstones and other flying debris. It is constructed with multiple layers of glass and a tough interlayer that holds the fragments together upon impact. Impact-resistant glass can greatly reduce the risk of shattered windows or skylights, providing enhanced safety during hailstorms.
Another option for window and skylight materials is polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a lightweight and durable material that has a high resistance to impact. It is often used in applications where safety and security are a priority, such as hurricane-resistant windows. Polycarbonate panels or sheets can be an effective choice for protecting windows and skylights during a hailstorm, as they are less likely to shatter or break upon impact.
Laminated glass is another type of glass that offers increased protection against hailstorms. It consists of two or more layers of glass bonded together with a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) in between. This PVB layer helps to hold the glass fragments together upon impact, reducing the risk of shattered windows or skylights. Laminated glass can be a good choice for areas prone to hailstorms, as it provides both safety and security benefits.
Factors affecting window and skylight vulnerabilities
Size and velocity of hailstones
The size and velocity of hailstones are key factors that determine the vulnerability of windows and skylights during a hailstorm. Larger hailstones have more potential to cause damage, especially to materials that are not designed to withstand high impacts. Additionally, the velocity at which hailstones travel can increase the force of impact, making it more likely for windows and skylights to sustain damage.
Angle and orientation of windows and skylights
The angle and orientation of windows and skylights also play a role in their vulnerability to hail damage. Flat or low-angled surfaces are more likely to be directly hit by hailstones, increasing the risk of damage. Windows and skylights that are facing the direction from which hail is coming are also more susceptible to impact. Structures that have protective elements, such as overhangs or awnings, can help reduce the direct exposure of windows and skylights to hail.
Window and skylight protection options
Window films can provide an additional layer of protection for windows and skylights during a hailstorm. These films are typically made of a thin, transparent material that is applied to the surface of the glass. The film helps to hold the glass fragments together upon impact, reducing the risk of shattering. Window films can also provide other benefits, such as UV protection and improved energy efficiency.
Hail guards are protective screens or grilles that are installed over windows and skylights to shield them from hailstones and other flying debris. These guards are typically made of strong materials, such as metal or impact-resistant plastics, and are designed to absorb or deflect the impact of hailstones. Hail guards can be an effective solution for areas prone to frequent hailstorms, as they provide a physical barrier against potential damage.
Shutters or storm panels
Shutters or storm panels are another option for protecting windows and skylights during a hailstorm. These panels are usually made of durable materials, such as aluminum or polycarbonate, and can be installed over the windows or skylights when a storm is approaching. Shutters or storm panels provide an extra layer of protection, shielding the glass from the impact of hailstones and preventing potential damage.
Professional evaluation and installation
Consultation with an expert
When considering window and skylight protection options, it is advisable to consult with a professional expert in the field. An expert can assess the specific vulnerabilities of your windows and skylights and recommend the most suitable protection measures based on the specific hailstorm risks in your area. They can also provide guidance on proper installation techniques and maintenance requirements.
Proper installation of windows and skylights
Proper installation of windows and skylights is crucial to ensure their effectiveness in protecting against hail damage. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for installation, ensuring that the materials are securely fastened and sealed. Improper installation can compromise the structural integrity of windows and skylights, making them more susceptible to damage during a hailstorm. Engaging a qualified professional for installation is highly recommended to ensure the best possible protection.
Insurance coverage for window and skylight damages
Check your insurance policy
When it comes to potential window and skylight damages caused by hailstorms, it is essential to check your insurance policy to understand the coverage provided. Different insurance policies may offer varying degrees of coverage for hail damage, including damage to windows and skylights. Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy to determine the extent of coverage.
Add-ons for window and skylight coverage
In some cases, additional coverage options may be available specifically for window and skylight damages caused by hailstorms. These add-ons can provide additional protection and financial security in the event of any damages. Consult with your insurance provider to explore the availability of such add-ons and consider their benefits based on your specific needs and risks.
Importance of regular window and skylight maintenance
Inspections and repairs
Regular inspections and maintenance of windows and skylights are crucial to identify and address any existing issues that could compromise their integrity during a hailstorm. Inspect windows and skylights periodically for signs of wear, damage, or improper sealing. Any cracks, gaps, or weakened areas should be promptly repaired to ensure optimal protection. Regular maintenance practices can help extend the lifespan of windows and skylights while minimizing the risk of damage.
Trimming nearby trees and branches
Another important aspect of window and skylight maintenance is monitoring and managing the surrounding vegetation. Overhanging trees and branches can pose a significant risk during a hailstorm, potentially causing damage to windows and skylights if they break or fall. Regularly trim and maintain nearby trees and branches to minimize the chances of hail or windblown debris causing damage.
Balancing safety and aesthetics during a hailstorm is crucial to protect both ourselves and our properties. Hailstorms can pose significant risks to windows and skylights, making it important to take appropriate measures to minimize potential damage. By considering impact-resistant glass, polycarbonate materials, or laminated glass, and installing protective measures such as window films, hail guards, or shutters, we can enhance the resilience of our windows and skylights against hailstorms. Consulting with professionals, checking insurance coverage, and conducting regular maintenance are also key in ensuring the safety and longevity of these vulnerable areas. Let’s prioritize our safety and take proactive steps to safeguard our windows and skylights during hailstorms.