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Pool Chemicals Send Thousands to ER [AUDIO]

It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are starting to rise, the sun is shining and many New Jerseyans will be hitting their backyards or their local swim clubs to take a dip. Unfortunately, each year, thousands of Americans are injured by the chemicals designed to keep swimming pools safe.

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In 2012 alone, nearly 5,000 people were treated in emergency rooms across the country as a result of injuries associated with pool chemicals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The State Department of Health and Human Services is urging all residential pool owners and operators to take the proper safety precautions when using chemicals to treat the water.

“Pool chemical injuries often result when we open containers and we don’t have safety equipment like masks and goggles or sometimes when we splash some in our face and we don’t have masks on,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program.  “We’re also seeing that chemicals aren’t being secured away from young children or maybe children are around when we’re handling chemicals. So clearly, this is all preventable.”

Pool chemical injuries are most common between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so the State Health Department is advising residential pool owners and public pool operators to take the following steps to prevent injuries:

  • Read and follow directions on product labels
  • Check pool chemical levels before making an adjustment
  • Use a new test kit each season and check the kit’s expiration date
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment such as goggles and masks, as directed, when handling pool chemicals
  • Secure pool chemicals to protect people and animals
  • Keep young children away when handling chemicals
  • Never mix different pool chemicals with each other
  • Pre-dissolve pool chemicals only when directed by product label
  • No swimmers should be in the water while adding chemicals
  • Encourage swimmers to shower before entering the pool
  • The pool area should not have a strong chlorine smell

The State Department of Health has produced a flyer, entitled Don’t Get Sick When Applying Pool Chemicals which can be found at

For more tips on pool chemical safety, visit


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