Pool Chemicals Send Thousands to the ER Each Year – Use These Tips to Stay Safe

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It’s officially swimming pool season! But the pool chemicals that make pools safe to swim in also send thousands of people to the emergency room every year – and nearly half the victims are children. This article offers expert advice on pool chemical safety.

A recent study published by the CDC shows the most frequent swimming pool chemical injury diagnosis is poisoning, and inhalation of vapors is the most frequent cause. No deaths were documented. but injuries resulting from exposure to swimming pool chemicals caused an estimated 4,535 U.S. emergency department visits annually during 2008-2017.

Patients typically were injured when handling pool chemicals without using personal protective equipment such as goggles (especially while opening containers), when pool chemicals were added to the water just before the patient entered the water (frequently in residential and hotel settings), and when pool chemicals were not secured away from children.

Before you use swimming pool or spa chemicals:

  • Get trained in pool chemical safety (e.g., during an operator training course)
  • Ask for help if you are not trained for specific tasks
  • Read entire product label or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) before using

Using swimming pool chemicals safely:

  • Keep young children away when handling chemicals
  • Dress for safety by wearing appropriate safety equipment (e.g., safety goggles, gloves, and respirator)
  • Read chemical product labels before each use – Handle in a well-ventilated area – Open one product container at a time and close it before opening another
  • Minimize dust, fumes, and splashes – Measure carefully
  • Never mix different pool chemicals with each other or any other substance. Mixing chlorine products with acid could create toxic gasses
  • Only predissolve pool chemicals when directed by product label – If product label directs predissolving, add pool chemical to water; never add water to pool chemical because a violent (potentially explosive) reaction can occur

These resources can help prevent chemical injuries and keep your pool area safe: