orlando, florida – Orlando entrepreneurs are trying to protect their homes and businesses from a hurricane.
John D. Smith is the creator of the window and door coverings he calls Storm Stoppers. This is a thick, corrugated plastic used as an alternative to plywood.
“Back in 2004, I was in the business of making signs and had a lot of this 8-inch thick material. It was Hurricane Charlie and I couldn’t get plywood. So I used what I had and it worked,” he explained.
He tested the material against 143 mph winds in a hurricane simulator and tested it against projectiles to see how it would hold up to flying debris in a storm.
“My first lab was a batting cage. Where do high-impact missiles go? And it worked. The ball bounced,” Smith said, noting that people usually board up their homes in a cage. I added that the plywood they use cannot withstand the wind. Its strong or powerful projectile.
Instead of using screws or nails, the Storm Stopper attaches with 3M Dual Lock fasteners. These are similar to Velcro command strips, but much stronger. Ben Harlan was Storm Stoppers’ first customer in 2004.
John D. Smith, creator of Storm Stopper, measures a piece of material to be cut for demonstration
He explained that he was working as a firefighter at the time and made the investment after accidentally locking his family inside their home during a hurricane.
“I put up the plywood and bolted it down. I was at work and my wife and I were talking until the phone hung up. I didn’t know what happened. They only had one exit, the garage, but it wasn’t turned on,” Harlan explained.
Since then, he says, it has protected his home storm after storm without having to replace the product.
Additionally, he likes that the panels are easy to remove. He doesn’t have to worry about getting his family on board in a way that traps them there.
“If Something happened – if there was a gas leak or a fire of some kind, you could open the window, kick out the screen, kick out the panel and get out.”
A 4 x 8, 0.5 inch thick plywood weighs about 45 pounds. The same size storm stopper material will weigh closer to 12.
It’s also much easier to cut through. Instead of using a circular saw, moderate pressure allows him to use a box cutter that penetrates in two slices.
Easy enough for a 70’s Harlan to do it yourself.