While having a pool can be great, it can also be a hassle– and dangerous, too. Of course the risks of children or pets falling into the pool are well known, and usually mitigated with proper enclosures. However, the chemicals we use to keep us safe from germs and algae growth are extremely dangerous in their concentrated state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 5,200 emergency room visits every year result from exposure to toxic pool chemicals. Simply failing to recognize such a risk is the most common reason why accidents happen. Here are some ways to ensure that chemical exposure is not something your and your family need to worry about.
Store Chemicals Separately
It certainly is tempting to just cram all your pool chemicals and other gear in the back of the garage as the seasons change. This seems like a good idea because it is easy, but it is not recommended.
Many of these compounds are fine on their own, but they can react with each other if you put containers next to each other, or otherwise mix compounds together. For example, inorganic and organic chlorinating agents are not compatible and can cause an explosive mixture if combined – even by using the same scoop in different containers. It’s best to know which kind you are using in your pool and be consistent.
Pool chemicals should also never be stored near gasoline, weed killer, fertilizer, paint thinner and more. There are just too many possible reactions that can create even more dangerous chemicals that eat through containers, release dangerous gases, or even explode.
Additionally, you don’t want chemicals or cleaning supplies near pool toys. If chemicals get on the toys, you or your children could get sick. Also, you don’t want your children coming across a potentially dangerous cleaning or maintenance product and thinking it is a plaything.
Store Chemicals Low and Locked Up
Make sure that you have chemicals stored as low to the ground as possible. If they are high up, you are increasing your chances of dropping or knocking over chemicals at the perfect height for these compounds to splash back at your face, eyes and mouth. Because they are kept down low, however, they are easier for children and pets to access. Keep them under lock and key, just to be sure. Also, do not store dry chemicals beneath any kind of liquid, hazardous or not. A wet leak onto dry chemicals can create an explosion.
Avoid Sun, Moisture and other Contamination
Keep these items in a dark, dry area when not in use. The sun can be a big problem for many types of items. Pool chemicals could be heated up by the sun’s rays. This could lead to a reaction that might erupt once the container is opened or otherwise disrupted.
Other products can be broken down and ruined by sunlight. Items made of rubber, plastic and foam won’t only lose their color in the sun, but they will degrade over time. Leaving these supplies in the light ensures that you will have to get new equipment sooner.
Moisture can be even more dangerous. In most cases, chemicals should be added to pool water where they are most readily diluted. Never add water (even a drop) directly to the chemicals. That means keeping wet scoops, fingers and even drinks far from the concentrated material.
If you happen to spill a dry compound, never return it to the container. It should be cleaned up and disposed of immediately. Wet and dry spills alike should be cleaned and washed thoroughly with lots of fresh water to ensure that chemicals are removed as much as possible, and trace amounts that remain (there will always be some) are completely diluted.
Always store chemicals in their original containers, and never re-use a container. Even when chemicals cannot be seen or smelled, it is still possible for a hazardous contact or poisoning to occur.
Set Firm Rules about Children and Pets
The best way to guarantee that your child or animal doesn’t come in contact with potentially dangerous pool chemicals and gear is to keep it as far away from them as possible. Putting these supplies away in the garage or in the basement probably isn’t always enough.
You may want to consider putting up a small shed or exterior locked and ventilated cabinet in a protected space. If you have a large yard, you could build a shed that is specifically purposed to storing your pool chemicals and other equipment.
Also, do not allow children or pets in the area when you are handling chemicals. They are unpredictable by nature and can either get too close, cause you to be distracted, or force you to tend to a problem and leave the chemicals out, where accidental contact could happen.
Handle with Care
Most chemical accidents occur during handling. Injuries to the eyes, skin and lungs are common and can be avoided. When opening the storage cabinet, stand back for a moment to assess whether there has been any out-gassing that may have built up in the enclosed space. Then, wearing goggles, rubber gloves and being fully clothed with pants and shoes– not in swimwear, take your time to handle each item carefully. Though few people take the goggle recommendation seriously, it just takes a small splash to cause serious injury or even blindness. Seems like a silly risk when the solution is so cheap, fast and easy.
Jessie Zender is a freelance writer from Scottsdale, Arizona writing for Road Runner Pool Service. Jessie writes extensively in the home maintenance field. He is considered an expert in the pool repair and pool cleaning service industries.