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Effectively Boarding Up Windows Can Enhance School Safety

During times of particular challenge within our greater community, we've experienced civil unrest. During those times, it can be helpful to have thought about preparedness for facilities in addition to the work that you've already done to ensure people are safe and protected. 

To address this possibility, we would like to provide the peace of mind of being able to protect your facility and property. Much of the information presented here is derived from official documentation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Of note, this is not a blanket recommendation to board up your windows, doors, etc. Instead, for those that wish to do so, we wish to ensure you have a reliable source of information on how to do it right. 

Boarding Materials

To securely board up any opening, you will need:

  • 1/2-inch CDX plywood that is at least four-ply and exterior grade
  • 2 by 4 by 8 feet of construction-grade lumber for bracing
  • 3/8-inch by 12-inch of course-thread long carriage bolts which have a rounded head on the weather side
  • 3/8-inch coarse thread construction-grade nuts
  • USS Standard 1/2-inch flat washers with an inside diameter large enough to bypass the wrench neck inside the carriage bolt head so that no lift edge is available beneath an installed
  • carriage bolt head
  • USS Standard 3/8-inch diameter flat washers for installation beneath the nut inside the building
  • 1 5/8-inches 6D galvanized or stainless steel ring-shank nails or comparable deck nails.

There are other products available for boarding up, such as hurricane shielding. If you are looking for more long-term protection, this is a viable option, but it’s also more expensive and less widely available.

Proper Procedure for Boarding Up Windows

When you have all of your materials, you can begin the actual boarding process.

  1. Cut the plywood so that it fits snugly over the window frame, meaning that it is flush with the outside trim. It should be completely flat so that it isn’t easily lifted or pried off.
  2. Cut four total 2 by 4 braces for each window (two interiors and two exteriors) so that they fit against the plywood horizontally.
  3. Set the bracers so that they divide the plywood horizontally into thirds, aligning them before assembling them on the window. Drill 3/8 inch holes through the components and holes for the bolts along the top third.
  4. Nail the plywood to the window frame, with new nails every 12 inches.
  5. Bolt the bracers to the plywood and the frame so that it sits flush against the window, with the interior braces providing support and separation between the assembly and the actual glass.
  6. If desired, stain or paint the boarding to match the building to make it less noticeable.

When the boarding is completed, a “No Trespassing” sign should be attached to a clear, visible exterior wall of the building.

Other Things to Know about Boarding Up

All first-floor entrances, and those accessible via a fire escape or porch, should be boarded up. This means effectively boarding up all doors as well.

After every entrance is secured, make sure to take precautions to keep yourself and your community safe. Make sure that you are following reliable news channels and websites (it’s preferable to have multiple sources of information for verification), including official government sites, for updates about the election, and information in the case of unrest in your area.

For more information about securing a home, you can see the FEMA guidelines or this helpful guide from Home Depot. You can also read more about what to expect from election night and the following weeks from CBS, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.

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