(NEXSTAR) – The internet is full of useful advice for protecting your home ahead of a hurricane, including FEMA’s guides for retrofitting or reinforcing your doors or windows, or Miami-Dade County’s tips for trimming your shrubs or trees before any loose branches become high-speed projectiles.
The one thing you probably shouldn’t touch, however, is the pool.
Despite what you may have heard, experts say it’s not necessary to drain your pool, even partially, ahead of a severe storm. In fact, it’s not advisable at all, as draining the pool can lead to cracks, structural damage or worse.
During severe weather events, the ground surrounding an inground pool can easily become saturated with rain, putting extra pressure on the exterior of the pool.
“All that extra water on the outside of even a partially drained pool could cause the pool to crack or even to ‘pop’ up out of the ground, causing leaks, major damage to plumbing and electrical wiring, and possibly cause the decking structure to heave,” explained Yvonne Florian, a home educator with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in a 2020 blog post.
Namco, an above-ground pool retailer, advises against draining above-ground pools too, as the weight of the water will keep the pool in place “and eliminate the possibility of your pool detaching from the ground,” the company writes.
The Florida Swimming Pool Association, a trade organization based in Sarasota, Florida, instead suggests taking steps to prevent damage to the pool — or damage that can be caused by pool accessories — by removing as many “threats” as possible. Tips include pruning any overhanging branches that are likely to fall in high winds, and relocating any toys, patio furniture, planters and pool accessories to indoor areas, if they aren’t already bolted to the ground.
Homeowners with pools should also shut off the circuit breakers that control pumps, lighting or heaters ahead of a hurricane, according to the FSPA. Additionally, sensitive pool equipment can be dismantled and brought inside, or to higher ground.
The FSPA further suggests “shocking” the pool — i.e., treating it with an extra dose of chlorine, to help the maintain the water’s cleanliness — but the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences specifically advises against this practice, as the extra-chlorinated water can easily overflow and flood the surrounding grounds during heavy rain.
Once the storm has passed, homeowners can assess the damage and determine which debris, if any, can be safely removed from the pool. Professionals should always be utilized if there appears to be structural damage, or downed power lines in the area.
Homeowners in the path of a hurricane can find more resources from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences here, or at Ready.gov and the National Weather Service. WFLA’s Tracking the Tropics resource is also providing up-to-date coverage of Hurricane Ian.