“Doctor, I store the chemicals in a shed by the pool. He must have gotten into them when I wasn’t looking. How old? He’s four.”
Chlorine is a chemical commonly accepted for use in pools to kill bacteria and control algae, and it does that function well. However, according to EPA.gov, it must be used with some caution, because it is a chemical which can also be used around the house for cleaning and as a disinfectant. So what does that mean for the average pool owner? Here are 5 tips which can allow the safe use of pool chemicals:
1) Don’t drink the water. Though chlorine will keep the walls and bottom of your pool clean, some safety precautions must be taken as part of maintaining a safe swimming pool. It may seem a bit obvious, but everyone who uses the pool must be instructed not to drink the pool water. This is especially important for young children, who as we all know, are prone to playing in the water, sometimes taking a mouthful of pool water to spew it out in the air or on a friend. In the course of that, the child might accidentally or without thinking drink some of the water. Make it clear – don’t drink the water.
2) Know how to use the chemicals. Because everyone who uses the pool brings their own contaminants, the chlorine used in swimming pools must be stronger than in other uses. While a household cleaner might contain a two percent concentration of chlorine, swimming pool chemicals may contain from twelve to ninety five percent chlorine. The chlorine is not used at that strength, but will be diluted substantially before use in the swimming pool. The proper administration of pool chemicals is therefore best left to adults to assure they are handled correctly, and mixed in the proper proportions. Make sure to read the instructions and learn about how to safely use the products. If necessary, take a class at a local location on the proper use and mixing of chlorine for the pool.
3) Safety pays. As cautioned by HealthyPools.org, a number of chemical-related pool incidents have been reported recently, including many visits to the emergency room, from the improper handling of pool chemicals. If safety precautions are not taken when handling pool chemicals, injuries can occur: inhaling fumes when opening containers, or accidentally splashing chemicals in the eyes when trying to mix the chemicals. Always wear protective gear, such as glasses and gloves, when mixing the pool chlorine.
4) Be prepared in case of emergency. Although many precautions will lessen the likelihood of accidents related to pool chemicals, it is still wise to be prepared in case of an accident. EPA.gov describes a process to ensure minimal damage from this type of accident. First, the person affected should describe what exactly happened, and how they are affected – how and where did they come in contact, and what part of their body did it affect. If it is an accident related to the eyes, the EPA suggests rinsing the eyes for 15 to 20 minutes in the shower or under a faucet, then calling the poison control center or 911. If the chemical was inhaled, get the person to fresh air and then make the appropriate phone calls. Add the phone number of poison control to the list of emergency contact numbers.
5) Store it safely. According to HealthyPools.org, caution is the word for adult administering the pool chemicals – first make sure those chemicals are safely stored. It is imperative to store chemicals properly to prevent them from mixing or getting wet unintentionally. Equally important – store pool chemicals out of the reach of children and animals. No one wants to see a crying child come in the house because of accidental contact with pool chemicals.
Time spent to correctly administer chemicals will not only keep the pool clean, but make sure that no one gets hurt during pool maintenance time. Do it wisely, and it will never lead to that scary trip to the emergency room to treat a toddler exposed to chemicals.
Becky Flanigan is a freelance writer for InTheSwim.com. She has 3 kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers. She spends hours at her family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. She is also a runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon.