Pool Chemical Safety: Protect Yourself from Injuries

A number of pool chemical-related health events have made headlines in recent months, including a chemical leak at a Las Vegas hotel-casino and a filter pump malfunction at an Indiana water park that sent two dozen people to the hospital. However, many more incidents never make the headlines. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that as many as 5,200 emergency room visits per year are due to pool chemical–related injuries, and almost half of these injuries take place at home.

Pool chemicals help keep swimmers safe by killing bacteria and other germs that can lead to recreational water illnesses (RWIs). However injuries can occur in or out of the pool when critical safety rules for handling and applying pool chemicals are ignored. Inhaling fumes when opening pool chemical containers; attempting to pre-dissolve pool chemicals; and splashing chemicals in the eyes can cause injuries.

Fortunately, most of these injuries are preventable with proper chemical storage and handling practices. If you use pool chemicals, be sure to:

Always store chemicals as recommended by the manufacturer, and prevent them from mixing or getting wet;

Always secure chemicals away from children and animals;

Always read chemical packaging and manufacturer directions before use;

Always wear appropriate protective gear, such as glasses and gloves

Never pre-dissolve solid chemicals or add water to liquid chemicals; and

Never mix chlorine products with each other, with acid, or with any other substance.

While continuing its focus on preventing RWI’s caused by contaminated water, CDC is stepping up its efforts to prevent injuries caused by pool chemicals. To help spread the word to pool operators and backyard pool owners alike, we have developed a poster-sized check-list, which pool owners and operators can download or order for free by visiting Healthy Swimming Posters. This is another important tool to promote healthy swimming. Remember, healthy swimming is no accident!

Michele Hlavsa
Epidemiologist
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention