⛈ Severe Storm Warning ?

HURRICANE SEASON: Atlantic hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th. Gas for the generator, Water, and food. Plywood to board the windows. Coastal areas watch for evacuation notices. Don’t forget the swimming pool. If you have a friend at a facility with a pool in these areas, it is okay to share this guide on preparing your pool for a hurricane.

Preparing Your Pool For A Hurricane

Last night on the way home from teaching one of my CPO Certification classes, I thought I would stop and top off the gas in my truck. WRONG! Folks were already fueling up everything they had that would hold liquid. I ended up going to six different gas stations before I found one that wasn’t bone dry. Luckily, I had stocked up on marine gas to use in my generator last week, so I was good to go there.

Flickr user SandyResponseNPS
Preparing Your Pool For A Hurricane

With everyone stocking up on milk, canned foods, gasoline, and water, I thought it would be an excellent time to suggest that we don’t forget about the pool. Just like with anything else, a little bit of preparation can go a long way.

Hurricane Preparedness Session in CPO Certification Class
Securing Potential Projectiles

I’ve never been a huge fan of “throwing all the patio furniture into the pool.” This can only be problematic. See if you have somewhere inside that you can stack these things. A building or a garage would be a much better choice. Lounge chairs and tables, even if only plastic, can damage the surface of your pool. In a vinyl pool, you’ll risk tearing the liner. If you have no other option than putting these items into the pool, let’s not “Throw” them in. Instead, place them in gently.

Andrea Lynne, CEO of Hibiscus Pools, Port St. Lucie FL
Stock Up On Chems

This is often overlooked, but we all go out and stock up on everything else, right? While everyone else is in line at the gas station, let’s take advantage of our local pool distributor or pool store. Stop in and pick up several 2.5-gallon carboys of liquid chlorine bleach. Even if you don’t regularly use the liquid, get the liquid. We have to consider that we might not have power after the storm. To put any other type of chlorine into a pool without a pump that’s running, it would have to be pre-dissolved. This can take a while for all of the types, except for sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine bleach).

YES! This is the same instruction for Saltwater Pools ???

Going ahead of time is essential here too. I can’t tell you whether or not your pool store will run out of chlorine during a hurricane. They will, however, possibly lose power during the storm just like you. If this occurs, they may not be open, and you will have no access to the chemical. Besides, while you are in there, you can also look for a chemical called aluminum sulfate. They will most likely have the product labeled as Floc. Below is a before and after photo, Jeff Owens of Richmond Texas took following Hurricane Harvey where he used aluminum sulfate for his clean up.

Before Alum
photo & alum treatment credit Jeff Owens, JSO Pool Services Richmond Texas
After Alum
photo & alum treatment credit Jeff Owens, JSO Pool Services Richmond Texas
What!? No Chlorine?

If your distributor or pool store should run out, a power outage runs long, or you just couldn’t get there for whatever reason, have no fear. You can use household bleach from the supermarket in a pinch. It is the same exact chemical, just a bit weaker. Of course, you’ll want to avoid using a scented sodium hypochlorite product if at all possible. You never want to use “splashless” bleach, because nobody really knows what’s in there, but we do know it isn’t chlorine. Well, not much anyway.

This also DOES NOT mean that it is okay to use liquid chlorine bleach for swimming pools in your washing machine. You will destroy all of your clothing and be the only one wandering around town naked during the Hurricane. You would also ruin your washing machine.

Sodium Hypochlorite Dosing Calculations

Liquid Chlorine Bleach 12.5% = 10.25 ounces will increase the Free Chlorine level of 10,000 gallons by 1ppm

Household Bleach 6% = 20.75 ounces will increase the Free Chlorine level of 10,000 gallons by 1ppm

Preparing Your Pool For a Hurricane
Should I Shock it?

You will want to go into the storm with an elevated chlorine level. Before you do that, you should test and adjust the rest of your water chemistry. I know, we’re gonna get tons of rain, and that’s going to throw it all off anyway. I get it, but the better a place our water chemistry is in heading into the storm, the closer it will be to being in balance once it is over. Besides, our Chlorine’s effectiveness could be affected by other chemistry things that are going on in the pool. Shoot for the ideal range. The pH should be between 7.4 to 7.6. Total Alkalinity should be between 80ppm and 100ppm. Calcium Hardness should be between 200ppm and 400ppm. After we get those things adjusted, we can bring the chlorine level up high. I would shoot for 20ppm heading into the storm.

photo credit Swim Carefree, LLC Carrollton, Texas
What About Draining Water?

DON’T! Don’t do that. Draining water from a pool is a decision that you may come to regret in a big way. Water is heavy. At 8.33lbs per gallon, your average Florida backyard pool of 15,000 gallons has 124,950 pounds of water in it. When the groundwater level is high, like it is now and has been since Irma-geddon, the weight of the water has a lot to do with keeping that pool in place. If you remove the water, some or all, you run the risk that your pool could POP or Float. Without the water, in it, your pool really becomes just a big plaster boat. Now think about how much higher that water level will be with the rain Laura is bringing.

Should I Turn Off the Power?

Yes, but not right now. I want to be able to run the pump and filter the water up until the day the storm is due to hit your area. Pay careful attention to the weather, so we don’t get caught off guard if Dorian decides to speed up. I want the water to circulate as much as it possibly can before we shut it down. Then I want to ensure that we’ve allowed sufficient time for the equipment to cool down before we cover it. Pool motors that are not part of a variable speed pump get really hot during regular operation. If I were using a tarp, I would like it to not melt to it.

After we shut off the pump, we should then shut off the breaker. We do not want the system to turn back on unintentionally should the power return. We also do not want to risk a surge damaging the pump. I would also remove the trippers from the time clock as an added precaution.

Preparing Your Pool For a Hurricane
Screen Enclosure Precautions

This is tough, for as much help as these things are in keeping leaves and debris out during normal conditions, screen enclosures almost always see damage during a severe storm. The best precautionary measures you can take here would be the removal of a screen panel or two, opposite one another. This may help a little in reducing the effect of the wind by “venting” the enclosure. Of course, you could remove all of the panels to further reduce the odds of your enclosure winding up in your neighbor’s yard. Doors usually take a beating in hurricanes as well; if you are able it would be wise to remove these as well.

IMPORTANT: Gainesville Regional Utilities Hurricane Prep Checklist Click Here
Preparing Your Pool For a Hurricane
Post-Hurricane Swimming Pool Check List

As soon as it is safe to do so, we can begin to attend to the pool

?         Remove all Large Debris (We don’t want to drag sticks or branches in vinyl lined pools as it  may damage the liner)

?          Return Water to the normal operating level: Mid-point of skimmer opening, or just above the lip of the gutter.

?          Ensure suction outlets are free of debris (Main Drain, Skimmer Basket, Gutter Grates)

?         Replace any components that have become damaged due to the storm

?         Thoroughly Inspect swimming pool equipment

?          Once power has been re-established, if there is no visible damage to equipment, turn the breaker for the equipment on

?          Turn on the pump at the time clock, DO NOT reinstall “On” and “Off” trippers

?         Test & Balance Water Chemistry (Utilize parameters in the “Should I Shock It?” paragraph above)

?          Shock the pool with your normal method and normal dose. We may need to repeat this step until the chlorine demand has been met.

?           Run Filter 24/7 until clear and a chlorine residual has been established.

?           Resume Normal Operation

If you are reading this and you are NOT a Pool Pro, CPO, or Aquatic Professional please contact a Swimming Pool Service Company to Help Remediate the Aftermath of the Hurricane.

Ashley Watson, Co-Owner of Aqua-Caribbean Swimming Pool Service, Gainesville FL
Using a Pool Service Company

If you are using a swimming pool service company, whether it is your regular service company or just for after the storm cleans up, please be patient. Try to remember that everybody’s pool looks just like yours does and some look even worse. The service company will also have the added challenge of getting from home to home with downed trees blocking roadways and a potential gasoline shortage. Understand that this individual’s home has gone through everything yours has. Please know that you are a priority and they are doing everything they can to get to you as quickly as possible.

If anyone needs assistance in locating a Pool Service Company, Certified Pool Operator, or AFO for help in the recovery process of your swimming pool following the storm, I am certain that we will know of someone in your area. If you just have a question, we can help there too. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us via our contact form at Laura Blows ?

Similar Article Chlorine Gas Cloud Injuries at Public Pools Caused by Liquid Chlorine Injection Malfunction ⚠️

By Rudy

Rudy Stankowitz is a 30-year veteran of the swimming pool industry and President/CEO of Aquatic Facility Training & Consultants

22 thoughts on “Preparing Your Pool For a Hurricane”
    1. You are absolutely welcome! If she needs any advice following the storm she is welcome to call me. If she needs someone to come out, I am certain that I will know a CPO (Certified Pool Operator) in her area. 352.598.0229
      Hoping everyone is safe and that Dorian takes a right and heads to sea, or fizzles into a breeze ???

  1. Oh boy, what a mess! I live in Nebraska, but we’ve had more flash floods this year than I ever remember, so I’m saving this for future reference. Great instructions and pics as well.

  2. Oh wow, because I don’t live in an area with hurricanes I had no idea that you needed to prepare your pool for when such a storm comes. I do have a pool but it’s cleaned and maintained by a company so I wouldn’t know what to do in case of a natural disaster.

  3. This is very timely… especially with the hurricane in Florida coming up. Thank you for sharing! It’s best to be prepared in every way. You always think of stocking up food and water, but you never think about preparing your pool for a hurricane.

  4. I feel so bad for those who suffer the aftermath of hurricanes. It’s horrible! I hope this advice was helpful for those who have pools and hurricanes.

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