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Protecting Your Shelter from the Storm: Secure Your Pool, Spa & Yard

A Checklist of Safety Precautions for Your Pool or Spa

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If a storm or hurricane is approaching, the last thing you want to worry about is what to do about your swimming pool, spa patio furniture, plants and yard. Basically, everything outside your house.

Post this checklist on your refrigerator or bulletin board so you'll know what to do to secure your pool or spa during the anxious hours before a storm hits or prior to evacuation.

Do Not Drain Your Swimming Pool

Photo of Coping on Inground Swimming Pool
Photo Courtesy of APSP
Many pool owners believe that draining their swimming pools or spas before a storm hits will keep it from overflowing and flooding their property. Wrong. Properly built or installed pools should be equipped with overflows that will drain excess water. If you want to slightly empty the water level, lower it no more than 1-2 feet. Otherwise, the hydrostatic pressure can be too strong, possibly causing the pool to "float" or "pop" out of the ground, according to the The Official Broward County Hurricane Preparedness Guide. The water in your pool serves as a kind of shield, protecting your pool's finish from the effects of flying debris.

Turn Off Power to the Pool Equipment

Unless safety precautions are taken, the most significant storm damage to your pool can occur with the pump and its motor.
  • Turn off the circuit breaker to the pool equipment (pump, motor, lighting, chlorinators, etc.).
  • Remove the motor and relocate it to a high-and-dry place inside, away from water and flooding.
  • Another solution for saving the pump's motor: tightly wrap it with plastic and strapping tape or rope.

Turn Off, Disconnect These Things

Things to turn off before a storm:

Another possibility, but obviously not right before the storm -- install a generator for emergencies.

Don't Forget Other Pool Parts

If you have time, remove all loose items from the pool area, including filter house tops, deck lid of filter, etc.

Outdoor Furnishings & Plants Need to Come Inside

Besides saving your patio furnishings, outdoor toys, potted plants, pool cleaning equipment and gardening equipment, you'll want to bring these items inside to prevent them from damaging your house or other parts of your property if they get battered about by strong winds and heavy rain. For heavier outdoor objects that can't easily be brought inside, anchor them to something solid with rope, bungee cord, chains, etc.

Some anxious homeowners in the path of a hurricane throw their patio furniture into the pool, in hopes of containing it and keeping it from getting tossed by forceful winds.

Grills and Barbecues

If possible, bring in gas or charcoal grills, but never use them inside or store propane tanks inside your home or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home, so that it doesn't get lifted by winds.

Prune Branches of Trees and Shrubs

Ideally, you should prune dying and weak branches of trees and shrubs throughout the year as part of your regular yard maintenance. If you have a gardener, make sure this is part of his / her maintenance routine.

After the Storm: CPR for Your Pool

Once you've received clearance to return home and have taken care of other more critical and emotional assessments of damage, you can address the pool or spa. You'll want to:
  • Clean out debris from swimming pool to keep it from staining permanently.
  • Balance water pH, superchlorinate or shock your pool, and run the filter until the water becomes clear.
  • Don't allow anyone to use your pool right before or after superchlorination.
  • It may be tempting if your pool is a disastrous mess, but, again, don't drain it.

Check the Electrical System

Inspect your pool pump and motor for any damage. Let the motor dry for at least 24 hours. If you couldn't remove your equipment before the storm and it was underwater, get it checked out. When electricity has returned, call a licensed, insured pool repair company to thoroughly inspect your pool and equipment.

Save the Trees & Landscaping

fallen trees yonkers new york irene
Photo © Charlie Zegers
If addressed soon, your uprooted trees can be revived. Here's how:
  • Stake leaning trees and shrubs upright with cushioned wires or ropes.
  • Cover exposed roots with damp sheets or cloth; never use plastic.
  • Lightly trim and prune branches. If more than one-third of the plant is damaged, you may want to consider replacing it, or take cuttings if you know how.

Get Flood Insurance

In coastal and inland regions, hurricanes have the potential to cause heavy damage due to floods. If you live in an area that has been hit by a hurricane in the past, you should seriously consider buying flood insurance.

Visit NFIP's floodsmart.gov site to learn more about flooding risk.

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Prepare a Pool for a Storm

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