X marks the spot for flying storm debris? Shattering a myth

Published: September 13, 2018



As Hurricane Florence unleashes her wrath on the Carolinas and the southeast coast of the United States, Canadians can perhaps feel lucky they mostly escape the brunt of tropical storms. Or perhaps they can’t as occasionally a hurricane does make landfall in the country. Either way, Canada has its fair share of severe weather events and one tip often offered for property preparation ahead of a storm is now being written off as a myth.

Canada is occasionally caught by the fading strength of a hurricane, but huge losses in Ontario and the Prairies this year from cat events show weather can be damaging without reaching hurricane force.

One common storm preparation tip is to tape and X onto a window to prevent it being shattered by debris. Of course, logic should tell anyone that this will not work, but for some reason the tip has become a regular participant on storm preparation lists.

Speaking to The Canadian Press, Rocco Arbitrio, Toronto-based regional risk control specialist for Travelers Canada, rubbished this tip:

“Some homeowners think that taping an X on your window is something that would protect the window from being shattered by flying debris,” Arbitrio said in an interview. “That is purely a myth and not recommended. I don’t know how the myth started, but flying debris at 100 kilometres an hour is going to go through a window irrespective of an X taped on it. It will shatter on impact.”

Preventing debris from hitting a winder may be impossible. However, Arbitro says understanding what is likely to cause the damage could help preparations:

“Storms can blow away patio furniture and patio furniture can damage other property and buildings,” he said. “Downtown Toronto is full of condos and on occasion, on high windstorm days, patio furniture ends up on King St. or University Ave. because even a moderate wind storm in downtown Toronto, can lift stuff off the balconies and into the streets.”