With the start of Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, the CDC reports that between 2015 and 2017, pool chemical injuries led to an estimated 13,508 U.S. emergency department visits, approximately one-third of which occurred in persons aged older than 18.
More than one-third of the injury victims (36 percent) were children or teenagers, and 56 percent of the pool chemical injuries occurred at a home. Two-thirds occurred during the summer swimming season (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day).
The top diagnosis was poisoning due to breathing in chemical fumes, vapors, or gases—as when opening chlorine containers, for example.
Pool chemical injuries are preventable. CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code, based on the latest science or best practices, is an important resource to prevent pool chemical injuries.
CDC listed steps that owners of pools and public pool operators should take to prevent these injuries:
- Read and follow directions on pool chemical product labels;
- Wear safety equipment, such as respirators or googles, when handling pool chemicals. Check the product labels for directions on what to wear;
- Keep pool chemicals out of reach of children, teens, and animals, including pets;
- Never mix different pool chemicals with each other. It is particularly dangerous to mix chlorine and acid; and
- If you operate a public pool, complete the operator training that includes pool chemical safety. Conduct pool chemical safety training for all staff that handles chemicals.
For added safety the CDC recommends that swimmers should take a rinse shower before getting in the water, not urinate or defecate in the water, and take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour.
These steps help limit the amount of nitrogen compounds being introduced into the water.