Nothing says summer like a clear pool. Not so fast, though. Before you dive in, take some time to ensure you and your summer guests are splashing in clean, safe water.

Open the Pool: Your Checklist

Beat the heat. Opening a pool for the season starts earlier than you might expect. Remove your pool’s cover before temperatures heat up too much. Algae thrives in warm, dark spots, so a few toasty summer days could add hours of clean-up time to the process.

Fast track it. You opened your pool to find murky water and mounds of algae. Don’t panic! Open the main drains and point your jets down. Run the pump as high as possible until your water is clear. Shock and algaecide will speed up the process.

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Stock up on pool care essentials. Stop by your local pool supply or hardware store before swim season kicks off to pick up the chemicals you need to keep your water clean, along with any parts you may need to replace. Start your shopping list here: water testing kit, chlorine tablets, a skimmer (with a pole extender), shock and a stiff bristled brush.

Do the basics. Clear out the strainer basket (leaves, sticks and other debris gather quickly), skim the top of the water and give the sides of your pool a scrub down. Use a heavy duty brush to slough off algae and mineral build up. Give your pools walls a once over, checking for cracks and tears in the tile or vinyl layer. If your filter is dirty, spray it down with a hose. While you’re at, spruce up your yard with 2018 trends.

Let it breathe. Keep water circulating to avoid algae growth and cut down on maintenance time. Allowing for a day or so of circulation will also ensure more accurate results when you test your water. Otherwise, the water at the top and bottom of the pool may give you different results.

Don’t wait. The morning of your first barbecue of the summer isn’t the time to realize your pump is down for the count. Before you’re ready to use the pool, test out all the equipment, heaters, pumps, blowers and anything else that could have taken a beating over the winter. Allow each to run long enough to ensure you’ll be all set come party time. (And don’t forget to stay safe at the grill when the fun begins.)

Safety first. Before your pool is back up and running, check your fence and lock(s) to make sure no one can get in without your knowledge. Look for any broken sections where children or animals can sneak in. Double check entry points into your pool area from the street and from your yard.

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Prepare now for next year. Don’t toss your damp, dirty pool cover in the garage without a good wash. Let’s be honest — you won’t remember to clean it before it’s time to put the cover back on. Before removing, hose off the cover to remove debris, then use a pump to remove standing water. Resist the urge to drain the dirty water into the pool. Then, remove the cover — folding in small sections — and scrub it with soap. Allow it to dry completely to prevent mildew growth. When it’s time to put it away, go with a large, sealed container. A plastic bin with a lid will do the trick to keep out dirt, dust, critters and insects.

Having a pool is a great addition to your backyard oasis. Be sure to mention your pool to your Farm Bureau agent, who will do a SuperCheck®, and ensure you have the right amount of coverage, and you can enjoy fun and sun worry-free this season!