Summer vacation may be nearing its end, but there’s still plenty of weeks left for you to enjoy your home pool before the season ends. With that in mind, as a pool owner you should take the time to review some basic tips regarding the safe use and storage of the chemicals you use to keep your pool clean and inviting.
1. Familiarize Yourself with Chlorinating Agents
Chlorine, as you doubtless know, is the primary ingredient for keeping your pool water safe and clean. Skimming may take care of dead bugs and stray leaves, but it’s chlorine that keeps algae and bacteria from building up. Generally speaking, there are two varieties of chlorinating agents: organic and inorganic. Common inorganic agents include lithium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite, and sodium hypochlorite. Organic agents generally include potassium dichloroisocyanurate, trichloroisocyanuric acid, and sodium dichloroisocyanurate. Differentiating between these two types is essential, because mixing them can have devastating results. Even reusing a storage container for either type can create an explosive mixture, resulting in serious accidents. Pool stores can help answer questions if you have them.
2. Proper Handling
When working with pool chemicals, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendations. If anyone in your family is not familiar with proper protocol, then it’s best to keep them far away from pool maintenance responsibilities. Always use scoops and containers meant specifically for use with your pool cleaning agents, as other containers may contain chemical residues that can cause harmful reactions. While these agents are designed to be used with water, they are only safe when diluted in large quantities of it, so make sure that your hands and tools are dry before using them. Pool chemicals are harmful if breathed in, likewise if they enter through the eyes, so save your pool maintenance for days with little to no wind, and open containers slowly to prevent dust shaking up when removing lids.
3. Safe and Secure Storage
When storing your chemicals, it’s best to keep them sealed in the containers in which they were purchased. Each bottle comes labeled with that particular chemical’s safety concerns. Storing it in a different, unlabeled canister will rob you of this information when you may need it most. Make sure your chemical storage area is dry. Check for cracks and gaps where rain water and other condensation may enter, and be sure to repair them before using the storage space.
4. Common Health Emergencies from Pool Chemicals
Thousands of individuals each year visit hospitals because of pool chemical-related accidents. Familiarizing yourself with common symptoms will not only motivate you to take proper safety precautions, but can also help you quickly recognize if an accident has occurred. Chlorine is a caustic chemical that, if coming into contact with skin when not diluted throughout the pool, can cause severe chemical burns not just to surface skin, but also to the eyes and inside the nose and mouth. Chlorine burns can range from first to third degree. If the skin goes beyond stinging and blistering, it is likely you are dealing with a third degree burn, so seek medical attention immediately. First and second degree burns can be treated at home, but even then it is wise to consult a professional.
5. Have an Emergency Plan
Even if you take every precaution, accidents do happen. Therefore, you should have a clear, direct plan of action for chemical spillage, ingestion, and other emergencies. Keep poison control numbers on hand, especially if you have small children who may accidentally gain access to your chemical supply space. Accidental mixtures of pool chemicals can result in toxic fumes, so have a predetermined retreat point a safe distance from your chemical storage area where you and your family can meet up and contact HVAC and medical personnel.
Swimming is refreshing way to exercise during the summer months, but all the fun of owning a pool shouldn’t distract you from the importance of proper pool chemical treatment. The majority of these accidents are completely preventable, so have your safety measures and emergency action plan in place long before you open your pool for the season. When treated with respect and caution, your pool chemicals will keep your water clean, refreshing and safe all summer.