As maritime lawyers, we know that there are a number of risks that can be faced when enjoying a day at a swimming pool. Aside from the possibility of drowning, pools also pose other threats that not everyone may be aware of. Pools that aren’t properly chlorinated put swimmers at risk of harmful and even deadly bacteria. Yet, the very chemicals that keep swimmers safe can also put people at risk. According to the CDC, pool chemicals can be dangerous if improperly mixed or if ingested.
WebMD reports that pool chemicals may even increase a person’s risk of cancer. When chlorine reacts with some chemicals and even with urine, it can pose a risk to swimmers. Yet, the cancer risk is small and researchers claim that the benefits of swimming are often greater than the risk of getting sick. Pool chemical storage, on the other hand, poses a more immediate danger.
For instance, according to the CDC, pool owners are required by law to store pool chemicals in a way that complies with local fire codes. Because each area’s laws may be different, it is important that pool owners and companies understand best practices for storing pool chemicals and also follow local law. Storage temperatures for pool chemicals matter. While everyone loves enjoying the pool on a sunny day, pool chemicals should be stored in temperatures under 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ideally, pool chemicals should be stored separately from one another in a clean area. Chlorine should be properly stored separately from other chemicals. Chemicals can explode, release dangerous fumes, and even result in fires or explosions if they mix. For this reason it is important that chemicals are properly labeled. Many accidents could have been prevented had bottles properly identified the chemicals within them.
Pool chemicals are hazardous and should be handled only by trained professionals. Pool technicians should document the use of chemicals used in a pool. Too much of a given chemical can saturate the water. Too little can lead to the growth of hazardous bacteria.
If pool chemicals spill or there is a leak in equipment, there should be an emergency plan in place to handle the situation. Chemicals can lead to burns or respiratory issues and other serious illnesses if inhaled. There should be a plan in place that includes a proper evacuation procedure. Pool staff should always know what to do and who to call in the case of an emergency. In the case of a private pool, pool owners and their family members should be educated about proper emergency procedures.
When pools are being cleaned or serviced, pool owners should know when to allow swimmers back into the water. According to the CDC, swimmers should not be allowed back into the pool until the recirculation system has been re-started. The pool should also be closed to swimmers while it is being maintained.
Owners should know their pool’s chemical levels and how to monitor chemical levels in the water. In commercial pools or swimming areas, staff should know how to test these levels and should be trained in what to do when levels exceed or go under safe limits.
Pool chemistry is a careful balance. The chemicals that are used can be very dangerous if misused. It is every pool owners’ responsibility to learn about proper pool chemical handling and storage. If an accident, illness, or death occurs because of improperly treated pools, victims may be able to file a claim and should speak with a maritime lawyer to discuss their rights.