How to Protect Your Home Before a Storm

A man placing plywood over windows
John Joyce places a sheet of wood over a window in his house as he prepares for Tropical Storm Gustav August, 29, 2008 in Luling, Louisiana.

Stephen Morton / Getty Images

If a storm or hurricane is approaching, the last thing you want to worry about is what to do with your swimming pool, patio furniture, plants, and yard. In short: everything you own outside your house that isn't bolted down.

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. Better yet, bookmark it and share with friends and family.

  • 01 of 12

    Outdoor Furnishings: Bring Inside or Store in Pool

    Plastic chairs in a pool
    Chris Cheadle/Getty Images

    All of your patio furniture, outdoor toys, container plants, pool cleaning and gardening equipment you'll want to bring 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.

  • 02 of 12

    Do Not Drain Your Swimming Pool

    A motor draining a swimming pool
    Lisa Hallett Taylor

    Many pool owners believe that draining their swimming pools or spas before a storm hits will keep it from overflowing and flooding their property. That is incorrect. Properly built or installed pools should be equipped with overflows that will drain excess water.

    If you want to empty the water level slightly, then lower it no more than 1 to 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 Official Broward (Florida) 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.

  • 03 of 12

    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.

    • Locate and turn off the circuit breaker to the pool equipment (pump, motor, lighting, chlorinators, etc.).
    • If possible, 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.
  • 04 of 12

    Turn Off or Disconnect These Things

    Things to turn off before a storm:

    Another possibility, but not right before the storm, is to install or buy a portable generator for emergencies.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Don't Forget Other Pool Parts

    If you have time, remove all loose items from the pool area, including filter housetops, filter lid, etc.

  • 06 of 12

    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.

  • 07 of 12

    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 their maintenance routine.

  • 08 of 12


    Check local news or websites or The Weather Channel's state-by-state evacuation updates. Don't try to be proud or heroic and wait out the storm. If you are told to evacuate, then evacuate!

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    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, super chlorinates, 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 super chlorination.
    • It may be tempting if your pool is a disastrous mess, but, again, do not drain it.
  • 10 of 12

    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 inspect your pool and equipment thoroughly.

  • 11 of 12

    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.

  • 12 of 12

    Reach Out for Help

    When in doubt, contact government and disaster preparedness sites for more information, including: