A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that pool chemical injuries are responsible for an estimated 5,200 visits a year to hospital emergency rooms, but safe handling and storage of water treatment products can make these injuries preventable.
Most of these injuries take place during summer's swimming season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and can occur in or out of the pool, according to a report in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study was released ahead of the CDC's National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week, May 18-20, which seeks to raise public awareness about safe behaviors around recreational water and safe storage of home pool chemicals.
"Pool chemicals make the water we swim in safer by protecting us from germs, but these same chemicals can also cause injuries if they are not properly handled," Michele Hlavsa, the study's lead author and an epidemiologist at CDC, said in a CDC news release. Both public and private pool operators and homeowners can protect themselves by:
Securing all pool chemicals in a safe area, away from children.
Reading manufacturers' instructions fully before using any chemicals.
Wearing appropriate clothing -- mask, gloves, and safety glasses -- to protect against burns or inhaling noxious fumes.
Avoiding mixing chlorine products with each other, with acid, or with any other substance.
Swimming is the second most popular sports activity in the United States, according to the CDC report, with approximately 339 million swimming visits to recreational water venues. To prevent illnesses at public venues, the agency suggests parents not take children swimming when youngsters are ill with diarrhea, not swallowing pool water, taking children on frequent bathroom breaks and practicing good hygiene.