1. Do NOT drain your pool
It’s easy to jump to the assumption that you should drain your pool in the event of a hurricane, but draining is actually a major no-no. The strong winds that occur during tropical storms can cause hydrostatic pressure beneath your in-ground pool, potentially causing it to pop out of the ground. The water acts as an anchor to weigh it down, and also protects your pool’s finish against damage from flying debris. If you do decide to drain your pool at all prior to a hurricane, lower it by no more than one to two feet.
2. Turn off the power to your pool equipment
Turn off the electric breaker system to your pool to avoid electrical surge damage. This includes all the mechanical systems in your pool as well as any lighting. Filter damage is the most common pool damage that occurs during hurricanes, so it’s important to protect it. If the filter is going to be at risk for complete water submersion, remove the pump and secure it in a safe, dry location inside. Some also opt to merely cover the pump with watertight plastic and rope to prevent water damage.
3. Protect your pool equipment
If you have plastic tarps or sheets, now is the time to use them. Wrap your pump, automatic timer, heater, and light fixtures in a few layers of plastic. Use duct tape and rope to secure the wrapping in place. If possible, physically disconnect power to the devices.
4. Add more chlorine
This is one of the simplest, yet, most effective ways to prepare your pool for a hurricane. The logic here is simple: adding more chlorine to your pool serves as a chemical defense against the contaminants that’ll be carried in by the storm. From dirt and acid rain to leaves and twigs, your pool chemicals will be working hard to keep your water clean.
So why not give them a much-needed boost to get the job done?
Add extra chlorine (or “shock”) to the pool to help fight any potential pollutants that might contaminate the water during the storm. Keep in mind this means you will not be able to use the pool for about 24 hours afterward — reference your own chemicals and supplies for safety details.
5. Store loose pool accessories
Remove all loose items from the pool area, including furniture and plants. If possible, bring gas and charcoal grills indoors, but never use them once they’re inside. Store those somewhere dry and safe, where they can’t be blown away. For heavier, bulkier outdoor objects, anchor them to something solid and secure with rope or chains. Never store propane tanks in your home or garage. Instead, chain them in an upright position to a secure object away from your home. Some choose to toss things like lawn furniture into the pool to prevent it from flying around in strong winds, but because it could cause damage to your pool’s finish and you risk chemical damage to your furniture (especially if you super-chlorinate the pool water), it is not always your best option.
6. To cover, or not to cover?
In most cases, it’s best to leave your pool uncovered. In hurricane winds, loose tree branches and roof tiles can pierce and damage cover. And once that happens, replacement is pretty much mandatory.
That said, it’s less of a headache to clean out your pool after a storm than it is to replace your cover. But, if you would still rather cover your pool, then consider: the strength of the storm/hurricane and the durability of your cover.
7. Hurricane-proof your screen enclosure
If you live in Florida, then there’s a good chance that your pool has a screen enclosure around it. They’re great for keeping out unwanted bugs and critters, but they’re easily damaged during storms.
The best way to protect your screen enclosure is by creating a path for airflow. You can do this by removing the screens, or by removing both doors. Creating a path of least resistance helps reduce a lot of the strain that would otherwise result in tears in the material. DO NOT slash your screens.
If you are worried about losing your cage, pull the spline (round rubber piece) that is located at the bottom of each panel. This will release screen instead of damaging it. When the storm passes, you will only have to pull the screen taught and put the twine back in place instead of having to pay for new screen.
When the storm has cleared, check your surroundings before inspecting for pool damage. If you chose to submerge items in the pool, remove them as soon as possible. Don’t use your pool water for drinking or sanitation as it may be contaminated or still super-chlorinated. Inspect your pool’s plumbing, pumps and filters for cracks and leaks. Check water and chemical levels, and set your valves to the circulation position before turning on the pumps. Then turn the power back on to the outlets.
Don’t reconnect the power until debris is removed and you are sure there is no damage to the electrical system. You may want to consider calling a professional before you turn the system back on, especially if you suspect electrical damage.
Besides the care of your pool, there are (of course!) many safety measures to consider in the event of a hurricane or other tropical storm. The following resources will help keep you, your family, and your home ahead of the storm.
There is only so much you can do to prevent damage to your pool once a hurricane is on its way. Being as well-prepared as possible ahead of time and proactive once the warning is issued can make a world of difference. Remember to always put your own safety first — pools can be repaired, but you and your family are irreplaceable!