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10 Pieces of Disaster Safety Advice You Should Ignore

        Science | Storms

8
Tape a Big "X" on Your Windows to Reduce Damage from Hurricane Winds.
Putting tape on windows just means bigger shards of glass will be flying around if the windows break. Eldad Carin/iStock/Thinkstock
Putting tape on windows just means bigger shards of glass will be flying around if the windows break. Eldad Carin/iStock/Thinkstock

You see it on TV every time there's a hurricane threatening the coast: businesses and homes with giant duct-tape "X"s on their windows. But the truth is that damage from hurricane-force winds is the one problem duct tape CAN'T fix.

Hurricane preparedness brochures promoted window taping into the 1980s before experts realized that this technique might just do more harm than good. The idea was that tape could help brace windows against the effects of winds, or at the very least prevent them from shattering into a million tiny pieces. In reality, taping does nothing to strengthen windows. And sure, it might prevent tiny shards of flying glass, but it could also produce the one thing that is worse: giant shards of flying glass held together with tape!

Like many disproven disaster safety tips, this one has demonstrated remarkable resilience. A 2011 survey conducted during the buildup to Hurricane Irene found that 7 in 10 respondents taped their windows in preparation for a hurricane.

This misconception is so pervasive that the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes initiated a "Go Tapeless" campaign to warn people about the ineffectiveness and danger of window taping. Instead, they recommend installing impact-resistant windows or shutters. Even plywood works pretty well. Just not tape.