The state of Florida (like much of the gulf coast) commonly experiences extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes. High impact windows are designed to resist the high winds and flying debris that hurricanes can cause. Flying debris is especially hazardous as high-speed winds can blow lose materials at speeds that are comparable to that of a speeding car. While the safety features of impact windows are apparent you may be asking yourself: are they legally required in the state of Florida?
Impact Windows And Florida Building Codes
When reviewing impact windows requirements the Florida Building Code lists the specific standards that windows and other building materials have to meet. To simplify the FBC states that if your home is located within one mile of a coastal area that can receive winds in excess of 100 MPH windows must be impact resistant or have some type of external protection such as a shutter. In areas that are classified as High-Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) requirements are more strict as a whole. In an HVHZ zone, every exterior opening must be impact resistant or have shutters. Miami-Dade and Broward counties (noted for their high building safety standards) must meet HVHZ requirements no matter how far inland your home may be.
High impact windows are not required in the entire state of Florida but are required in coastal areas, with some counties being more strict than others. As always, consult your local laws and country requirements when upgrading your windows. However, impact windows offer several advantages to both safety and quality of life and are advisable even if not legally required.