Every part of the world has its share of natural disasters. Flooding, earthquakes, monsoons and tornadoes -- most every region occasionally suffers some unpleasant or dangerous weather. Living near the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes are the most common threat. As others have summer, winter, spring, and fall, the Gulf has an additional season: hurricane season. Though residents get a bit used to the near-constant warnings about tropical storms and tropical depressions nearing hurricane strength, a laissez faire attitude is dangerous.

Even a well-built brick home is vulnerable in the face of a strong hurricane. While the structure might be able to withstand high winds, the windows are more vulnerable. Certain precautions need to be taken.

Some people simply tape up their windows. This is not very effective and can actually be more dangerous. In the event that the hurricane does break the windows, you now have large sections of sharp glass taped together and flying through the air. Other people use plywood to board up their windows. This is much more effective than tape and it is relatively inexpensive. The problem with plywood covers is that they must be installed before each occurrence and taken down after the threat has passed. This method becomes cumbersome and time-consuming. There is also the threat of the plywood being ripped off the windows in the face of high winds.

The preferred method, if finances allow, is the use of hurricane shutters. These shutters are installed on the outside of your home, next to the windows. They are hinged, so they can be closed when needed. When the danger of hurricanes or hurricane-strength winds is present, simply close the shutters. Though no shutter is guaranteed against all damages, it should be greatly reduced.

Hurricane shutters are available in a variety of styles with a variety of price ranges. The easiest and most expensive are those with an automatic closing device. For a less expensive, but still effective shutter, consider a metal, steel or aluminum shutter.

Shutters are always beautiful. That beauty is enhanced, however, when they can actually offer protection and safety. That combination is found in hurricane shutters.