Build A Hurricane Kit
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Download a printable version to take with you to the store. Once you take a look at the basic items consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets or seniors.
Emergency Supply List
Basic Disaster Supplies KitTo assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
Maintaining Your KitAfter assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
Kit Storage LocationsSince you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.
Sometimes Mother Nature has a way of reminding us who’s in charge. While you can’t control when or where a hurricane will hit, the best way to minimize potential damage is to be prepared.
Hurricane Prep Tips
When a major storm is coming, stay informed by following NOAA Weather radio or your local news channels for updates. In addition, make sure to obey all orders if requested to evacuate by the authorities. Follow these 10 hurricane and storm preparation steps to keep your home and loved ones safe before disaster strikes.
For the nearly 30% of Americans, or 94 million people, that live on or near the coast, events like hurricane and floods are a reality that can be expensive and time consuming to prepare for and deal with. Hurricane season runs similarly on the Pacific and Atlantic, with the Atlantic seeing hurricane activity starting in June and the Pacific starting in mid-May, with both concluding at the end of November.
To stay on top of these unexpected disasters, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need know to help prep for hurricanes or floods – from prepping all the way to clean up:
Prepping for a storm:
Disaster relief kit
Have an evacuation plan
Before the storm, it is good practice to know your local evacuation routes and have a plan for where you can stay in the case you have to leave. If you do not need to evacuate, make sure to have enough food and bottled or jugged water in case of power outages and road closures
Minimize flying debris:
Trim or remove dead or damaged trees and limbs, they can become loose and add to the flying debris that may start flying if winds become strong enough.
Secure and clear clogs from rain gutters and downspouts to help prevent water damage due to backup.
If your home has a car port, make sure the posts are well secured to the ground. If winds become strong enough, the port may become detached and cause further damage to the house.
Remove any freestanding objects from your yard like statues, flower pots and furniture and move them inside.
If you’re looking at renovating your home, consider making adjustments to your roof to make it more secure. If you’re in the market to by a new roof, make sure to seal your roof deck and add hurricane roof straps. These straps secure your roof to your walls using galvanized steel straps, helping keep your roof in place in winds up to 100 mph. If you’re not looking to replace your roof, you might be able add these straps to your roof by having a professional connect them to your attic.
Consider investing in a portable or backup generator in case of power outages. If you chose to do this, make sure your generator is at least 20 feet away from windows and doors, and is protected from moisture. Do not, under any circumstance, power your house by plugging the generator into an interior wall outlet.
After the Storm: Inspect Your Home
When cleaning up from a flood or hurricane it’s important to remember that your house will require heavy-duty cleaning that goes above and beyond normal cleaning practices. For safety, wear rubber or insulated footwear, long pants, long sleeves, rubber gloves, goggles and a N-95 (or better) mask to protect yourself from bacteria, mold and viruses that may be in the water.
Inspect the exterior
Upon return to your property, do not let your family rush back inside – you’ll need to check for any damage on the exterior first. Do this by checking for loose or fallen power lines, damaged gas lines, cracks in the foundation, missing roof shingles and un-secure trees. Make sure to take pictures of any exterior damage for insurance purposes.
Inspect the Interior
Do not enter a flooded space without ensuring that the electricity is turned off. Once confirmed, check for damage on the inside of your house using a flashlight. Do not use a candle to check your house for damage, in cases of gas leaks, the flame could accidentally ignite the gas causing fires.
For overturned items and utilities, the American Red Cross recommends using a wooden stick to turn over upended items and to inspect electric wiring or appliances for damage from afar.
Cleanup After the Storm
Mold can grow in water logged items (anything from furniture and carpet to small knickknacks) within 48 hours, so it is important to start your cleanup process as soon as possible. Start by opening all windows and turning on bathroom vents (when possible) to keep air circulating.
Any standing water will need to be removed before most cleaning can be done. In addition to water pumps removing water, you can use wet to dry vacuums or upholstery cleaners (without cleaning solutions) to extract water from hard surfaces such as concrete and sub-flooring, as well as soft services like carpet and upholstery. As safety is the primary concern during flood clean up, make sure to avoid using machines that need electricity if standing water is more than half an inch.
Please note: do not pump water into the sewer system, instead pump water into your lawn or into storm water drain pipes. Water pumped into the already stressed sewer system will slow down your states water treatment program.
Once standing water is removed, your home will likely still be damp. Use a dehumidifier or portable air conditioner to help control and remove humidity in your home. Both of thee units are great solutions for getting any lingering moisture out of floors, ceilings and walls, and can also help eliminate some smells in your home.
Carpeting and Furniture
It is best to have removable carpets and rugs professionally laundered. In most cases, installed carpeting and padding that has been submerged in water won’t be able to be cleaned adequately or thoroughly enough, and should be replaced. If only part of your carpeting was affected by flood water, use a wet to dry vacuum to remove as much water as possible. Then clean and rinse your carpeting using an extraction cleaner. Dehumidifiers and fans can speed up this process.
For solid wood furniture, remove any drawers or doors and allow to dry outside. Make sure to thoroughly brush or wash dirty wood furniture using a well-rung washcloth, using a solution or mild soap and water, then rinse using clear water. Allow these pieces to fully dry outside, out of direct sunlight.
Upholstered furniture should be professionally cleaned. Water damaged mattress should be discarded and replaced.
Call a professional service company to come inspect connections and components of your major appliances like refrigerators, ranges and washers. For small compact appliances like toasters and tabletop microwaves, check for frayed or exposed wires that could make the unit unsafe before use.
When it comes to your refrigerator, if your fridge has not received electricity for over four hours, you will need to toss perishables like meat, dairy and any leftovers. Freezers items will last longer – up to about 48 hours – if the freezer was full and remained closed the entire time. If your freezer was half full, you have about 24 hours before things go bad.
For clothes and washable fabrics, treat with a prewash spray first and then wash in cool water using powder laundry detergent. The powder detergent is preferred for this as it will work well at removing clay and dirt that flood water could contain, while the cold water will keep stains from setting. Once your initial wash is complete, re-launder everything in the hottest water that is safe for your fabrics with powdered detergent and either chlorine or all-fabric bleach. Take non-home washable garments to the dry cleaner.
All in all…
Make sure to document any damage in your home and take thorough notes. If possible, take pictures and videos of your belonging before the storm and keep receipts. These documents will increase chances of your insurance claims being accepted.
Remember: If you need help… get help! Young children and the elderly have sensitive immune systems and should not assist in cleanup plans. If there is a large amount of water damage, consider getting a professional team to help you clean. You can ask your homeowners insurance company for recommendations on these services.
Likewise, people suffering from asthma, allergies and other breathing problems may be sensitive to mold and have trouble helping with cleanup. If you are concerned about indoor air quality while cleaning, ask your doctor if it is safe to help with cleanup after a flood.
ROOF STORM DAMAGE CHECKLIST
No matter where you live in the United States, chances are you’ve encountered your share of rough weather over the years. From tornadoes, hurricanes, hailstorms, and summer squalls that bring driving wind and rain, storms can wreak havoc on roofs and other exterior home surfaces.
What To Do After a StormHow do you identify roof damage, and what should you do about your roof after a major storm?
Browse this resource guide on understanding types of roof storm damage and learn what steps you should take, then download the Owens Corning roof storm damage checklist for future reference.
Types of Roof Storm Damage WindHurricane-force winds, which are classified by meteorologists as 74 mph or greater, or gale-force winds, which are between 39-54 mph, can cause visible damage to your home’s roof. High winds can remove or tear shingles, leaving the underlayment, roof deck, or waterproofing material exposed to the elements.
During less severe storms, sudden, sharp gusts of wind can lift and curl shingles. When shingles are installed, they’re purposefully overlapped to create a water-tight seal, and this lifting and curling can break this seal, potentially leaving your roof vulnerable to damage from wind-driven rain.
HailWhile hailstorms tend to be relatively short, and rarely last for longer than 15 minutes, hailstones can leave dents or pockmarks in shingles and knock shingle granules loose. This can be problematic because these granules help protect your roof against rain and sun damage. Hail damage can also ruin the pleasing aesthetic appearance of your roof’s surface.
Standing WaterRoofs without proper drainage can experience problems with standing water after big rainstorms, especially in uneven areas. Clogged gutters can also cause backed up rainwater under your shingles, which allows moisture to potentially penetrate the underlayment or the roof deck.
DebrisDepending on how severe the storm was, debris can end up on the top of your roof, everything from small branches to larger tree limbs. Large objects can dent or impact the surface of the shingle, leaving that area of the roof vulnerable to moisture intrusion, whereas lighter branches may not be as much of a problem.
Roof Storm Damage Checklist [DOWNLOAD]Refer to this roof storm damage checklist to help you better understand the type of damage your roof may have sustained and to evaluate whether you need an entirely new roof or just parts of it repaired or replaced.
Schedule and Conduct a Roof InspectionAs always, safety is first. Contact a trusted, professional roofing contractor to schedule an inspection and help you with damage assessment.Many contractors offer free inspections and will know how to safely look for roof damage.
Roof: Visually assess your roof by walking around the perimeter of your house and taking note of any visible storm damage.
You might also have a good view of parts of your roof from one of your windows. Keep a list of notes and/or take pictures — this can potentially be helpful later for insurance purposes. Any visible signs of storm damage should be documented, such as dented, torn, curled, or missing shingles.
Gutters, Vents, and Windows: Check for dents on your home’s gutters and roofing accessories, such as gable vents and other overhangs. Windows should be inspected for cracks, broken glass, loose weather-stripping, and torn screens.
Outside Areas: Walk around your home’s exterior and look for fallen tree limbs, missing fence posts, or damage to lawn furniture and other decorations. Flat surfaces, such as patios and decks, can be checked for hail damage.
Attic and Ceilings: Observe these areas for leaks and water spots. While your home’s roof might appear undamaged on the exterior, wind and hail can cause unseen leaks that may lead to bigger problems later. Ceilings, light fixtures, and your attic should all be inspected for water leaks and spots. Use a flashlight to see in dark areas.
Hire a Dependable, Trusted Roofing ContractorIt’s important to work with a contractor you can trust. Roofers and repair companies are likely to be busy after a large regional storm and may try to compete for your business by offering discounts or deals. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
A good place to start your research is with independent roofing contractors with Preferred or Platinum Preferred membership levels in the Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network.
Roofing contractors can:
Its representatives can help you file a claim and get adequate compensation based on the notes and photographs you collected from your storm damage assessment. The company may also send its own assessor or inspector to your home to thoroughly evaluate the roof storm damage your home sustained.
If your home has sustained roof storm damage, download the Owens Corning roof storm damage checklist to help you figure out your next steps. Then, find an independent roofing contractor in the Owens Corning Contractor Network (OCCN) near you.
What steps should you take after your home has been affected by a hurricane? Follow our checklist for simple steps to assess the damage, including the roof, siding, appliances, gas line and HVAC system — and get your home up and running.
The hurricane has passed. You and your family are safe. And officials have said it’s OK to return home. Now what? How do you assess the damage safely and get everything back in order? Where do you even start?
Here are tips on what to look for — and look out for — after a hurricane.
1. Wait until daylight.As much as you want to get back to your home, wait until daylight, especially if the power is out, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This will help you see and avoid any dangers.
2. Take photos.Bring a camera or phone to take pictures for any insurance claims.
3. Do a walk-around inspection.Wear protective clothing — electrical hazard boots, heavy-duty waterproof gloves and a hard hat if there’s danger of falling debris — and go with a partner to check out your house and yard, suggests Ready.gov. Be careful of standing water, which could have submerged debris or be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Contact the utility company if you see this.
4. Assess damage to your home’s exterior.Check for roof, siding, window and door damage. Missing flashing, gutters and shingles will all need to be replaced.
If you boarded up windows and doors before the storm, good for you. But be careful removing plywood sheets. Take note of nail holes left behind; these could lead to water damage later on.
5. Check for water damage.If your home experienced flooding, you can be pretty certain there’s some level of water damage. Check to see if water has seeped behind your siding and into your insulation. Water can lead to mold and rot.
6. Inspect your appliances.If the power is on in your neighborhood, avoid the urge to rush in and see if all your appliances still work. Take it slow, recommends National Grid. Turn on major appliances one at a time to help avoid overloading circuits.
7. Check for gas leaks.If you smell gas or think there might be a leak, absolutely do not turn on lights, light matches or do anything else that can cause a spark. Leave your house immediately and walk a good distance away before using a cellphone to call the utility company. It’s possible for the phone to produce a spark that might ignite the natural gas and cause an explosion.
8. Don’t use wet appliances.If your electrical or gas appliances have gotten wet, don’t use them, and don’t turn on damaged appliances — in both cases there’s a risk of electric shock or fire, Direct Energy warns.
For example, if you didn’t unplug your washer and dryer and your laundry room is flooded high enough that the water covered the electrical outlets and cords, the standing water could be electrically charged and lethal.
Even if your appliances aren’t submerged, it’s possible that water could have damaged their motors. Floodwater often contains dirt that can corrode parts of the equipment.
If there’s a lot of water, “don’t plug in or turn on any appliance, large or small, that has been flooded,” says Sears Home Services appliance expert Dusty Jolly. “Wet appliances must be dried, cleaned and inspected by a professional before they can safely be used again. Only some appliances can be reused after a flood, while others will need to be replaced. The extent of the damage depends on factors such as the depth of the water and the amount of time the appliance was exposed to the water.”
A professional technician can help you make the repair-or-replace determination.
9. Check if your HVAC system has been flooded.Your furnace, water heater and AC system also may have been affected by water, which can lead to corrosion. But worse, “they may become a breeding ground for mold, bacteria and other growth, which lead to health risks,” Jolly says. “These products should likely be replaced since they deal with air quality.” Call a qualified service provider to assess whether your system can be repaired or needs replacing.
Hurricane-force winds can do a number on your home’s exterior, and flooding may damage your home’s interior, including its appliances and HVAC system. If you have any questions at all about how to safely inspect the damage, don’t take a chance: Call in the experts.
What you do during a hurricane has a tremendous impact on how you and your home safely make it through the lashing winds and torrential rains of each cylindrical rotation a tropical storm system brings.
While we all hope for hurricanes to take a wayward spin back into the sea and wreak their havoc far from the presence of humans, the fact of the matter is that hurricanes are bound to make landfall sooner or later.
How you prepare before, during and after a hurricane can be the difference between life and death and your home making it through the storm scot-free. If you take the following five hurricane safety tips to heart, you’ll have a better chance at seeing both of those positive outcomes come true.
5 Hurricane Safety Tips for What to Do During a Hurricane1. Stay Inside & Away From WindowsIf there’s a mandatory evacuation order for your area, we highly suggest you evacuate as soon as possible. The best place to be during a hurricane is far away from its path of potential destruction. They issue those orders for good reason, and getting far away from the hurricane is the easiest way to stay safe during it.
What to do during a hurricane depends on the scenario of whether you’re going to evacuate or not. If you decide to stay and forgo evacuating, you need to stay inside at all times and away from any windows and doors. Hurricanes are extremely powerful storms, which can thrust entire cars through the air without a moment’s notice.
Hurricanes can easily throw a two-by-four through a window or door. Even if you have impact-resistant windows and doors, it’s still a good idea to remain a safe distance away while the hurricane is passing through.
The second-best place to be during a hurricane is an interior room, such as a closet or bathroom, on the first floor of your home. Even if the storm seems to have calmed down and dissipated outside, stay inside because it may be the calm eye of the storm.
2. Stay in Tune with Local and National AlertsIf you’re riding out the hurricane at home, there’s a good chance you’ll lose all power supply to your home. This knocks out TVs, internet, cell service, wireless capability and pretty much all the high-tech communication methods you have with the outside world.
That’s where a battery-powered portable radio comes in handy. Having a portable radio that runs on battery power ensures you always have an internal connection with the outside world, so you can stay up to date about the storm system, path and when the hurricane has safely passed.
All you need to do is tune into the National Weather Service, which is a frequency that broadcasts all storm forecasts, warnings and watches 24 hours a day. It’s also important to stock up on extra batteries before the storm, so you can stay tuned in after the storm.
3. Be Ready to Turn Off Main Energy SourcesYou may be surprised to know that many people don’t know how to turn off the main power, water or gas sources to their home. Knowing where the master valve is for each of the three utilities may be the difference between staying safe and facing potentially dangerous conditions.
If a hurricane knocks out the power to your home, it’s important to turn off the main power source to your home. If you leave on the power source, and the power comes back on, there’s a chance it could send an unnecessary amount of electricity to your appliances, air conditioning or anything else with a power source, and fry them beyond repair. This could also cause a house fire, so you want to be extremely careful.
Although the water won’t work if the power goes out, the main water supply still needs to be turned off to prevent overflowing and potential flooding from your sinks, toilets or showers.
Turning off your home’s main gas supply is extremely crucial in the event a hurricane cuts off power to your home. If you have a gas grill, gas fireplace or any other gas sources in your home, leaving it on while the power is out can have grave consequences.
While it’s rare, this could overflow the gas supply to your home and cause your home to catch fire or blow up. Turning off the main gas supply is an easy way to be safe rather than sorry.
4. Use Hurricane Equipment CarefullyIf a hurricane causes the power to go out, you may consider using a generator to temporarily utilize everyday appliances until the power is restored. If you are operating a generator, it’s imperative to do so the right way.
First thing’s first, you should always read the generator’s owner’s manual before turning it on. You must also set it up away from doors and windows because generators release toxic carbon monoxide fumes that can become fatal if they make way into your home.
It’s also smart to keep a carbon monoxide detector inside the door or window that’s closest to the generator. It will keep you safe by informing you if any toxic fumes are making their way inside your home.
If you’ve opted to ride the hurricane out by candlelight, be sure to do so carefully. It might sound like obvious advice, but you must always keep candles away from anything even remotely flammable and make sure to blow them out when going to sleep.
5. Beware of Water Coming into Your HomeIf any water is coming into your home from the outside, whether it’s through a broken window or another source, turn off your home’s main power source immediately. The water could surge the power and turn into an electrical fire.
After turning off your home’s main power source, try to round up some towels and any other items that could help prevent the water from continuing to pour into your home. This will help prevent further damage from occurring.
Make a Plan.Hurricane season starts on May 15 in the north Pacific and June 1 in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. It ends on November 30. Before hurricane season each year, make sure you and your family are prepared by planning ahead.
That’s why it’s best to be prepared—stock up on everything you might need now. Be sure to prepare the following:
Know the difference between a hurricane “watch” and “warning.”Listen for National Weather Service alerts on TV or radio or check for them online. There are two kinds of alerts:
Get your car ready.Make sure your car is ready before the storm hits.
Get your family and pets ready.
Get your home ready.
Be ready to evacuate or stay at home.Always listen to authorities regarding whether you should evacuate or stay at home.
If a hurricane is coming, you may hear an order from authorities to evacuate (leave your home). Never ignore an order to evacuate. Even sturdy, well-built houses may not hold up against a hurricane. Staying home to protect your property is not worth risking your health and safety.
You may hear an order to stay at home. If driving conditions are dangerous, staying at home might be safer than leaving.
If you need to evacuate:
Hurricanes can pose a serious threat to both your life and property. These natural disasters produce winds ranging from 74 to 200 miles per hour. A storm with that much power can cause catastrophic damage and severe flooding. Weather can be unpredictable, so it’s vital to have a hurricane safety plan in place for your business or facility. Here’s everything you need to know about hurricane preparedness:
Creating Your Hurricane Safety PlanIf you are on or near the east or gulf coasts of the U.S. it's important that you plan a safe evacuation route that will take you 20-50 miles inland. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter, and ask for the community’s emergency preparedness plan. In addition, take the time to discuss your plan with any family members, friends or coworkers so that everyone is on the same page if this natural disaster happens to strike.
Stock up on disaster suppliesDon’t wait until the storm hits to get all the products and supplies you need to stay safe. Start now. Here’s a list of basic emergency supplies to have on hand:
Know the protocolThe National Weather Service forecasts, updates and directs the public during a national disaster via TV, radio, cell phones and computers. Your local authorities will also issue statements if need be. Be sure to stay in the loop, and follow whatever instructions are made to avoid danger. If an evacuation order is given, leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Secure your all the rooms. Unplug appliances and turn off electricity and the main water valve. If time permits, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or move it to a higher floor. Take your pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm, protective clothing, cash and credit cards, rain boots, and copies of important papers, including bank accounts, insurance, and household and business inventory records.
Getting back to business post hurricaneAfter the storm is over, it’s time to assess the damage. Enter the building carefully and keep an eye out for anything that could be harmful and unsafe. Wear sturdy shoes when walking through debris, and use gloves when moving it out of the way. Be diligent with your search. Possible hazards in your facility may include:
Safety still mattersKeep in mind that recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Above anything else, safety is still a primary issue, as is the mental and physical wellbeing of your employees. If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful. Your first concern after a disaster is your co-worker’s health and safety. You need to consider possible safety issues and monitor employee health and well-being.
However, don’t forget to monitor your own health. Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest. Here are some general tips to keep in mind:
Creating a hurricane safety plan ahead of time can help you and your business make a comeback after a disaster.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
Preparing Your Car For A Hurricane
If you live on the Atlantic coast, then hurricanes are a possibility between the months of June and November. These storms may not be common in your area, but hurricanes bring heavy rain and strong winds. Therefore, it is important to be prepared in case one does come your way.
These storms can cause damage to not only your home but your car, too. Certain steps must be taken to protect your vehicle from the approaching storm. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for hurricane season:
Complete Car Maintenance. Throughout the year, you should be keeping up with car maintenance. However, not everyone does. As you are preparing for a hurricane, it is even more important to ensure your vehicle is in good condition. This is because an evacuation may be required, and you will rely on your car to get you to a safe location. Check the car’s fluid levels. This would include oil, transmission, brake, power steering, coolant, and windshield wiper fluids. In addition, you should check the vehicle’s belts, tires, and battery. If you do not feel comfortable performing these maintenance tasks, take it to a local mechanic. Check out more information on routine car maintenance.
Assemble An Emergency Kit.You may not have roadside assistance. Even if you do, a car emergency kit can come in handy in the case of an emergency. When preparing for a storm, pack your trunk full of items that will aid you if an unexpected situation were to arise. You could even keep these items in your vehicle after hurricane season comes to an end. Here are a few items to include:
Fill Up The Tank.If you know of an approaching hurricane, fuel up the tank ahead of time. You can also fill up a gas canister, just in case. It can be difficult to get to a gas station if you wait. Along certain routes, supply may be limited. Plus, you will have to sit in long lines, because you waited until the last minute.
Be Informed.Keep up with the progression of the storm. When is it expected to reach your area? How bad is it supposed to be? Watch the local news to find out this information and their recommendations. Be informed on the emergency evacuation routes. Go over this information as a family.
It’s that time of year again: hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and the Eastern Pacific season May 15, and both run through November 30. During an average season, 12 tropical storms will form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico, and six of these will become hurricanes. During that time, your home is threatened by disasters including destructive winds, tornadoes, storm surge flooding and inland flooding caused by heavy rains.
Did you know that pools face special risks of their own in extreme weather? But fear not: Proper preparation both throughout the year and directly before a storm can limit damage during tropical storms or hurricanes. This guide will help you get your pool and patio area prepared so you can worry less about damage and more about your own safety when the storm hits.
BEFORE THE STORM: PREPARING YOUR POOL AND OUTDOOR AREAS DO NOT EMPTY YOUR POOLPeople may ask, "Won't the pool overflow if we don't at least lower the water?" Yes it may, but no more so than if a patio or a plot of grass were there instead. Adequate drainage has most always been provided for in the design of the pool. Keeping the water in the pool provides the important weight to hold the pool in the ground. An empty pool is subject to "floating" or "popping" out of the ground due to "lift" pressure from excessive ground water caused by the heavy rains that may accompany the storm.
Set up a siphon hose before the hurricane hits, using a garden hose running from the pool edge to a point 2-3 feet lower. Leave the hose in place so that you can start the siphon quickly if the pool begins to overflow.
TURN OFF ELECTRIC POWER TO SWIMMING POOL EQUIPMENTTo prepare a pool for a hurricane, circuit breakers at the main electrical panel should be turned off to prevent pump motors, lighting, chlorinators, and heaters from operating during the worst parts of the storm. Run the pumps and filters while it’s calm, but when heavy rain, wind and lightning arrive, shut them off for the duration of the hurricane.
PROTECT THE ELECTRIC POOL EQUIPMENTAfter the equipment is shut off, wrap the pump motor, time clock, light transformers and electric heaters with a waterproof plastic membrane and tie it securely in place to prevent sand and driving water from entering. If flooding is expected, it may be best to disconnect these devices and store them in a dry place, especially the pump, if a pool pump is submerged, the motor will likely be ruined. Spend some time if necessary to clear the areas around the equipment pad of mulch, leaves, debris and soil, to ensure that water drains away rapidly from the equipment pad.
REMOVE ALL LOOSE ITEMS FROM THE POOL AREALoose objects such as chairs, tables, toys and pool cleaning tools can become dangerous projectiles in hurricane force winds and should be stored inside of buildings. It's not advisable to throw patio furniture into the pool unless it is a last resort. If it is necessary to do so, gently place these items into the pool to prevent possible damage to the interior finish and remove as soon as possible to avoid staining. Skimmer lids should be screwed in place to avoid becoming a Frisbee®. Inspect the fence for loose sections, and secure any loose light posts or signs.
Protect the Screen EnclosureSome damage to the frame of a screen structure may be prevented if you provide a "vent" for wind to flow through. Consider removing screen panels on opposite sides of the enclosure by pulling out the vinyl spine that retain the panels.
ADD EXTRA CHLORINE TO THE POOLTo prevent contamination from the anticipated debris and excessive storm water, good swimming pool hurricane preparation suggests that you add a "shock" dose of liquid or granular chlorine. Lower the pH first to around 7.2 for best results, and run the filter after shocking for several hours to circulate.
DO NOT COVER THE POOLIt a natural instinct to run out and put on a pool cover to prepare a pool for a hurricane. DO NOT DO IT! Storms bring wind, and wind can cause falling branches and other flying debris that can damage pool covers. It's much easier to remove debris from the pool after the storm, than it would be to replace an expensive cover.
Patio and Yard Preparation
General yard and tree upkeep throughout the year can help you be prepared in the event of a hurricane. Keep large trees around your home trimmed and be especially wary of weak and low-hanging branches. Remove Spanish moss and keep limbs less than five feet long to reduce the risk of them becoming weak and breaking in strong gusts of wind or heavy rainfall. Have branches close to utility lines trimmed by a professional, or contact your utility company to have the tree trimmed. Gravel has been known to shred vinyl house lining, so consider replacing gravel and rock walkways with shredded bark or wood chips.
If your pool is in a lanai or screened-in area, your structure is also at risk for damage. Remove screening panels and doors to create a vent for the wind to escape. If very strong winds are a guarantee and you suspect wind damage is inevitable, you can also cut “X” shapes into multiple screens around the pool to reduce the wind resistance. Insurance won’t cover the slashes, but rescreening is significantly less expensive than replacing the entire framework.
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. 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.
AFTER THE STORMWhen 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.
AS BEFORE THE STORM, DO NOT EMPTY THE POOLAfter a hurricane, an empty pool is subject to "floating" or "popping" out of the ground due to "lift" pressure from excessive ground water caused by heavy rains that may have accompanied the storm. If it appears necessary to drain the pool due to excessive debris, mud or damage, start by draining less than half the water, cleaning the pool and refilling. If a complete draining is required, wait until the ground is less saturated and any high water tables have receded.
REMOVE DEBRIS FROM POOL FIRSTRemove large objects by hand and use a "leaf rake" or "leaf bagger" to remove smaller debris from the pool. Do not attempt to use the pool's vacuum system for large debris that is likely to plug the plumbing. A Leaf Rake type of skimmer net is best for removing heavy leaf volume from the surface or floor. Bring a large trash can on the pool deck to empty the leaf net into while cleaning.
CHECK ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT BEFORE RESTARTING SYSTEMRemove waterproof plastic membrane from electrical devices and be sure they are dry before turning circuit breakers on again. If these devices have been exposed to water, they should be checked by a licensed professional. Then turn on electricity, prime the filter system, and check for normal operation. Backwash or Drain to Waste to lower water level in pool to mid-skimmer.
If your electrical power has not been restored, you can still manually clean the pool of debris using a Leaf Rake or garden hose powered pool vacuum. Test the water and add chemicals as needed, using a pool brush to circulate the water and help distribute the chemicals. Daily skimming and brushing, and a good chlorine and pH level will keep the pool from turning worse, until power can be restored to the pump.
START THE FILTER EQUIPMENTStart the filter pump and run the system for long hours each day. When the water has attained proper clarity then reset the time clock for a normal daily cycle. Backwash the filter as needed to maintain flow rates.
BALANCE THE POOL WATER CHEMISTRYReadjust the pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and conditioner levels and continue to check them carefully over several days. Heavy addition of soils or debris to the pool can cause dramatic changes to water chemistry. Balancing is important to help chlorine sanitize the water and to prevent staining.
ADD CHLORINE TO POOLTo prevent contamination from the storm debris and excessive storm water add a "shock" dose of liquid or granular chlorine to the pool water. If your pool was flooded and has turned the color of soil, a flocculant can be used to sink the heavy solids to the pool floor, for vacuuming. Heavy soil or debris will likely raise the phosphate level in the pool. Using a phosphate remover chemical is recommended for flooded pools.
MONITOR THE POOL OPERATIONIt is important to monitor the overall operation of the entire system for several days after a hurricane to be sure everything is operating properly, and there are no electrical hazards, pool leaks or flooding dangers.
ADDITIONAL HELPFUL RESOURCESBesides 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.
The National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service has helpful tips for ensuring you and your family are prepared for a hurricane’s arrival.
The American Red Cross has great information on disaster alerts and preparation.
Ready.gov has information on hurricane preparation, as well as information on preparing for other natural disasters.
The National Weather Service is one of the best resources to get up-to-date information on hurricanes that are headed your way and those which are still forming.
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!