Pool Chemicals Send Thousands to the ER Each Year – Use These Tips to Stay Safe
It’s officially swimming pool season! But the 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.
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.
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: – chlorine products with acid; this could create toxic gases- different pool chemicals (e.g., different types of chlorine products) with each other or with any other substance
– 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:
- Read more on the study.
- Review CDC recommendations for preventing pool chemical injuries.
- Visit the CDC Healthy Swimming site.
- Visit the Healthy Pools website for a variety of resources.
- Watch a video on pool chemical safety by the Chlorine Institute and the American Chemistry Council.
- Browse pool safety signs at ComplianceSigns.com.
Do it right: Save a life
Portrait OSHA Hazardous Pool Chemicals Sign
Most of the pool-related child casualties, according to the CDC are related to improper handling of pool chemicals. By wearing the proper PPE when dealing with chemicals, and storing them safely and away from children, these pool-based tragedies can be avoided.