PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
May 23, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Keep the Pool Safe This Summer

As the summer season approaches, residential pool owners and public pool operators should be sure to take safety precautions when using chemicals to treat the water to protect both themselves and swimmers from potential health hazards.

"Chemicals are added to the water in pools to stop germs from spreading, but they need to be handled and stored safely to avoid injuries," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd.

Nationally, nearly 5,000 people visited an emergency room for injuries associated with pool chemicals, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Nearly half of those preventable injuries were in children and teenagers and more than a third occurred at a home.

Since pool chemical injuries are most common between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Department is advising residential pool owners and public pool operators to take the following steps to prevent injuries due to pool chemicals: 

  • 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

Employees who maintain pools should also take steps to protect themselves because prolonged exposure to chlorine-based chemicals can cause respiratory irritation or even asthma.

The Department of Health has produced a flyer, http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/survweb/wra/documents/poolchemicals.pdf.  "Don't Get Sick When Applying Pool Chemicals" containing safe work practice recommendations for pool staff who manually adjust chlorine levels. Safety precautions for workers include wearing protective equipment, undergoing training and following safe work practices.

Visit the CDC for more on pool chemical safety: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pools/preventing-pool-chemical-injuries.html

Pool owners and operators also need to pay close attention to general pool safety, especially if children are swimming or are near the pool. Important safety tips include:

  • Keeping lifesaving equipment by the pool: Pole, rope and flotation device
  • Post CPR instructions near the pool
  • Keep a cell or cordless phone near a pool to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency
  • Enclose pool with a self-locking and self-closing fence.

More safety tips are available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/

For additional information about recreational bathing and pool safety, please visit: http://nj.gov/health/ceohs/index.shtml