Pool chemicals

Pool chemicals can become a hazard when they are improperly mixed or when they get damp or wet. Store them in a dry place away from water and out of the reach of children.

Pool chemical injuries led to an estimated 4,535 U.S. emergency department visits annually during 2008-2017, according to a report published in The Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although injuries from pool chemicals are preventable, the number of serious injuries from these chemicals has not changed much in the last 15 years. The thousands of emergency department visits underscore the need to raise awareness about safely handling pool chemicals.

Inhaling chemicals causes the most common injury

CDC examined data on emergency department visits due to pool chemical injuries during 2015- 2017. The top diagnosis was poisoning due to breathing in chemical fumes, vapors, or gases—for example, when opening chlorine containers.

Additional findings:

Over one-third of these preventable injuries were in children or teens (36%)

Over half of pool chemical injuries occurred at a home (56%)

About two-thirds of pool chemical injuries occurred during the summer swim season (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day) (65%)

Safety starts with pool owners and operators

Pool chemicals, like chlorine, protect swimmers from the spread of germs and prevent outbreaks linked to pools and water playgrounds. If you own a pool or operate a public pool (for example, at a hotel, waterpark, or community center), take the following steps to prevent pool chemical injuries:

Read and follow directions on pool chemical product labels.

Wear safety equipment, such as respirators or googles, when handling pool chemicals. Check 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.

If you operate a public pool, complete the operator training that includes pool chemical safety. Conduct pool chemical safety training for all staff that handle chemicals.

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