He Knows a Thing or Two about Hurricane Safety

When his brother bought a house on the North Carolina Coast, Dr. Tim Reinhold, IBHS senior vice president of research and chief engineer, gave him the perfect housewarming gift: storm shutters for his windows. “I got the translucent kind, so if he has to put them up, he will still have light in the house.” Known to colleagues as a leading authority on wind engineering, Dr. Reinhold joined IBHS in 2004. Prior to that, he spent 12 years as a professor of Civil Engineering at Clemson University.

We’re approaching the peak of hurricane season. What can people do now to get ready?

Protect their home’s doors and windows. If high winds blow out a window or door, the pressure inside the home is likely to take the roof off. That’s why I bought my brother shutters. There are a variety of commercial shutters that can be installed, including several that are translucent, and there’s always plywood, which provides some protection but not nearly as much as commercial shutter products. Whatever you decide to use, it’s important to buy the shutters now; once a storm is forecast, it can be hard to find them in stores. To be effective, the shutters have to be properly anchored and it is best to have pre-installed permanent anchors. It takes time to measure the windows and install the anchors, so do it well before storms threaten and use permanent ones so you don’t leave empty holes when you remove the shutters. It took my brother and me half a day, working together, and I’m handy and have installed them before.

What about doors?

You can get shutters or install plywood to protect the doors. It’s a good idea to add this level of protection, especially if you have a double door. Lots of people have them on their front entry way. They look nice, but they tend to be particularly vulnerable to being blown open by the wind—much more so than a single door. After Hurricane Charlie, I met a man who had tried to hold his door closed by pushing against it; he was injured in the attempt and it didn’t stop the wind.

Garage doors are vulnerable too, and they are a big opening for wind and wind pressure to enter. If you don’t have a high wind–rated garage door, think about replacing or retrofitting it to make it stronger.

Dr. Tim Reinhold installs tools to capture information just before Hurricane Frances.

Quick Facts About Dr. Tim Reinhold


A Man of the World

16897-illustration-of-a-globe-pvTim grew up in Africa, went to school in Virginia and has ties to South Carolina and Denmark. He holds bachelor, master and doctoral degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech. Before joining IBHS, he taught Civil Engineering at Clemson University and worked as a consulting engineer in the U.S., Canada and Denmark.He still keeps in touch with Danish and Swedish friends and recently returned from a Scandinavian vacation.


Founding father of the IBHS Research Center

Tim was one of the creators of the IBHS Research Center, a state-of-the-art facility that can simulate highly realistic windstorms, wind-driven rain, hailstorms and wildfire ember attacks. It took a while—he started working on concepts in 1994 following the damage and finger-pointing that occurred after Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992.


Problem solver and bringer of donuts 


Tim’s door is always open, he makes himself available to colleagues and is quick to answer questions. If there are donuts in the break room, chances are Tim brought them as a treat for coworkers.


Dr. Reinhold leads a tour through the IBHS Research Center.

What about when a storm is forecast? What can homeowners do 72 hours out?

72 hours is a good time to put up those shutters! If you have a rotating off-ridge attic vent on the roof, it should be removed and capped. Button up the house by collecting and safely storing any loose objects like patio furniture, which could be picked up by strong winds and damage your house. Refill prescriptions, get gas for your vehicle, have cash available and monitor the storm.

Is there anything you recommend not doing?

Don’t bother taping your windows. I started investigating hurricane wind damage after Hurricane Frederic tore through Pensacola in 1979. I’ve seen many hurricanes since then. Every time I’ve seen a whole roof blown off a house, I have found a large window or door blown open on the windward side of the house. Tape on the windows is not going to help.

Dr. Tim Reinhold installing window shutters for his brother’s home in North Carolina.