The Impact of Weather on Pool Safety

Outdoor swimming pool during a rain storm

During swim season, the weather your pool experiences can create a pleasing backyard oasis, send you running indoors for your own safety, or impact the health of your pool’s water or the condition of your swimming pool accessories. From nearby lightning while swimming to cleaning up pool storm damage, as a pool owner, Mother Nature can significantly impact your enjoyment and the cost of ownership. Understanding the risks the weather poses to your pool before it strikes can help ensure everyone has a fun and safe time swimming, playing, or relaxing in and around the pool.

Weathering the Weather

Backyard swimming pool on a hot summer day

Outdoor swimming pools, whether inground or above ground, are subject to the elements, and so are the people using them. As the pool owner, you need to ensure you have the swimming pool safety barriers necessary to prevent unsupervised access to the swimming pool by children, pets, and adults when conditions aren’t safe. Accidental drowning injuries cause thousands of deaths annually, and during inclement weather, swimmers may be more easily disoriented, suffer injuries from environmental factors, or find themselves at increased risk of fatigue. Enforce any pool weather closure by securing your removable mesh pool fence, swimming pool safety cover, or pool safety net, preventing water entry and lowering your risk of accidents or injuries.

Common Swimming Pool Weather Events

While your outdoor pool may not be as protected from the elements as an indoor pool, remember that it is designed to be in those elements. Your primary concerns as a pool owner are threefold:

  • The Safety of Swimmers – While your pool can handle weather-related incidents remarkably well, humans and pets using it may not be as resilient. Exercise good judgment when deciding when swimming is safe and appropriate.
  • The Safety of the Pool Itself – While it may be designed for outdoor conditions, you can still offer your pool additional protection to keep it from being damaged or contaminated.
  • The Safety of the Water – After a weather event, pools can be contaminated or need re-balancing before the water is safe to swim in. You must learn how to protect, prepare, and restore your p[ool’s water.

Lighting While Swimming

Electricity and water don’t mix. Never use the swimming pool when lightning activity is in your immediate area. Lightning seeks the path of least resistance to reach the ground, often striking the tallest object and spreading through other conductive objects touching or near it. This can include pool structures, accessories, or human bodies. Lightning can also strike the pool’s surface, sending electricity through anyone in or around it.

The American Red Cross recommends a 30/30 rule when determining whether it’s safe to use the pool when lighting is present.

  • Distance – Never use the pool when lighting is within six miles of the pool. While some apps or weather stations will inform you of lightning strikes nearby, you can also estimate the distance by counting seconds from when you see a flash to when you hear the thunder from the lightning. Thunder travels a mile in approximately five seconds, so if you hear thunder less than thirty seconds after seeing a lightning flash, it’s too close.
  • Time – After the lightning storm recedes, allow thirty minutes after the most recent nearby strike before entering the swimming pool area. This ensures you’ve had enough time for the atmospheric electrical activity to move far enough away to no longer pose a significant threat to poolgoers.  

Heavy Winds

Sustained winds and high-powered gusts present weather challenges to pools and swimmers alike. High winds can bring airborne debris that damages pool accessories, like slides or fences, and contaminates the water with dirt, dust, and trash. This debris can also present a danger to swimmers, who can be struck, have trouble breathing through the airborne dust, or suffer eye injuries. Winds can also make the water choppy and turbulent, putting weaker or smaller swimmers at a heightened risk of drowning.

As wind speed increases, consider closing your pool for the safety of your loved ones. While a fence is a great safety barrier to prevent unsupervised access, such as to prevent swimming while lightning is nearby, it does little to protect the water itself. A swimming pool safety net can prevent larger debris from entering the swimming pool while swimming pool safety covers can also effectively keep out dirt and dust. 

Rain Storms

Rain storms may seem like innocuous pool weather events, but care should still be taken to protect your swimmers. A steady downpour can cause inexperienced swimmers to become disoriented, and rain storms can easily turn into thunderstorms with lightning. Swimming in any storm exposes your pool area to higher winds and added contaminants, including both air and waterborne dust and chemicals. Curtains of rain can also make it harder for those outside the pool, like the responsible adult serving as a water watcher for kids, to see a dangerous situation developing in the pool itself.

Close your pool anytime weather conditions become violent enough to put swimmers at risk. After the rainstorm, test your pool’s water and rebalance it. Even in areas where the rainwater is relatively free of dirt and biological contaminants, it’s still adding an additional volume of liquid to the pool, throwing off your pH, alkalinity, hardness, and sanitizer levels.

Extreme Heat

Backyard swimming pool on a hot summer day

When the weather warms, the pool is a popular place to beat the summer heat. From taking a quick dip to cool off to catching some rays in order to perfect your tan, most pool owners can’t wait for summertime fun. It’s important to remember, however, that while the sun can give us some much-needed vitamin D, overexposure to UV radiation can be dangerous. In addition, high temperatures and dry conditions can increase the rate of evaporation, stealing your pool’s water volume while UV radiation further degrades the remaining chemicals you worked so hard to balance. 

In the summer, plan your swimming schedule to allow for frequent breaks to reapply waterproof sunscreen and rehydrate, or avoid pool use when the sun is at its highest. Using a solar cover or swimming pool safety cover when the pool isn’t in use can help control evaporation and protect your pool and the water in it from UV damage.  

Cold and Freezing Weather

Cold temperatures can lead to rapid body temperature loss, hypothermia, and death, especially in young or elderly swimmers. Meanwhile, freezing water can put your pool’s structure, liner, pipes, and fixtures at risk of frost damage or bursting under the increasing pressures caused by ice forming in an enclosed space. Anytime sustained low temperatures are expected, such as over the winter months, your pool should be winterized for protection, and swimmers should be kept away from the pool area, whether filled or partially emptied, as part of the winterization process.

Winterization prepares your pool for weather that’s far below freezing, and pool safety barriers can help keep your loved ones out of harm’s way by preventing pool access. It’s important to note that even though you may not have anyone actively swimming, lighting remains a danger during colder months as the air holds less moisture overall. This can lead to the rare and dangerous phenomenon known as “thundersnow”, a winter storm that includes lightning strikes with falling temperatures and lack of visibility from snow flurries.

Stay Informed About Your Local Weather

Before allowing anyone into your pool area, ensure you know what weather to expect and take the appropriate safety precautions. Modern meteorological predictions are increasingly accurate, powered by more sensitive instruments, better computer modeling, and a deeper understanding of the world around us. Check the forecast before planning an event at your pool and frequently as it approaches to ensure you’re ready to provide a safe area for swimmers and non-swimmers alike.

Get Your Free Pool Safety Barrier Estimate

Your local independent pool installation professional is your go-to resource for pool safety barrier installation, repair, and inspection. They’ll schedule a time to visit your pool, take measurements, talk to you about your needs, and then provide an estimate that lets you make an informed decision. Find out how cost-effective peace of mind is. Get your free quote from your neighborhood All-Safe Pool pro today.

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