How to Protect Your Home Before a Storm

A Checklist of Safety Precautions for Your Pool or Yard

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. 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.

  • 01 of 12

    Outdoor Furnishings: Bring Inside or Store in Pool

    chairs in pool before hurricane
    Chairs are stored in a hotel pool before a hurricane hits Holguin, Cuba. Chris Cheadle/Getty Images

    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...MORE furniture into the pool, in hopes of containing it and keeping it from getting tossed by forceful winds. It has worked for major hotels (see photo).

  • 02 of 12

    Do Not Drain Your Swimming Pool

    draining a swimming pool
    Don't drain the pool before a storm or hurricane. 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. Wrong. Properly built or installed pools should be equipped with overflows that will drain excess water.

    If you want to empty the water level slightly, 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 Official Broward...MORE (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.
    • 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.
  • 04 of 12

    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.

    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 house tops, deck lid of filter, 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 his / her maintenance routine.

  • 08 of 12

    Evacuate!

    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, 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,...MORE again, don't 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 thoroughly inspect your pool and equipment.
  • 11 of 12

    Save the Trees and Landscaping

    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.
  • 12 of 12

    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.