CDC: Thousands sent to ERs with pool chemical injuries

Prevent swimming pool chemical injuries

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Anthony Pacheco of Cathedral City, owner of Pacheco's Pool Service, said he's diving into his busiest time of the year.

"Now we're going into our summer swimming season, a lot of chemicals will be used in traveling and entering into pools," he said.

Those chemicals could be dangerous if mishandled or improperly stored. A study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nearly 5,000 people paid a visit to the emergency room in 2012 with pool chemical injuries.

Nearly half of them were children and teens. More than one-third happened at home and most were between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The most common injuries for swimmers and pool operators include respiratory problems and eye and skin irritation or burns.

"Mostly inhalation with chlorine gas. It can cause a lot of irritation. People come in weezing or short of breath. Sometimes they burn themselves. They're skin irritants," said Euthym Kontaxis, medical director of the Tennity Emergency Department at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.

Kontaxis said the number of chemical injuries has decreased at Eisenhower because of the use of salt water pools.

Here's what you can do to help keep your community and your family safe.

- Read and follow directions
- Never mix chlorine products with acid
- Add pool chemical to water, never water to pool chemicals.
- Secure and keep chemicals away from pets and children.

"Don't leave it out or by the pool while they're swimming. Keep it in a locked or safe dry area that doesn't have access for children," said Kontaxis.  

"We have to make sure to inform if we do add chemicals. Stay out of the water for at least half an hour that way the chemical won't be concentrated in one area they might swim into," said Pacheco.

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