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Pool Chemical Safety

Pool Chemical Safety

The hot days of summer are often quenched by a refreshing swim in the backyard or community swimming pool. Many pools are treated with chemicals to prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Exposure to these chemicals can happen to pool owners during routine maintenance or to those just wanting to enjoy a swim.

Picture a container of chlorine tablets or granules; the container is stored outside near the pool.  It sits for hours in the heat of the day, with direct sunlight beating down on it.  The heat causes the chemical inside to expand, so when the container is opened a “poof” of the strong chemical escapes often into the face of the user.

This poisoning is both unexpected and avoidable.

Prepare yourself and your family for the unexpected.

“It feels as if my lungs are on fire!” is a common complaint from the victim of this kind of exposure. It is frightening when it’s difficult to breathe. The sudden onset of symptoms may also include; coughing, gagging, choking, and a burning sensation in the nose and airway.

First aid steps need to be taken immediately!

For most healthy people this is a situation that can be handled at home by the specially trained nurses and pharmacists at the Missouri Poison Center. Immediately, move away from the chemical and get to fresh air. Next, call the experts at the poison center for further treatment advice which will depend on your unique exposure and specific chemical(s) involved.


  • Safety begins with transportation – the pool store should be the last stop on your errand list so that the chemicals do not stay in the hot car for a long period of time. Unpack them as soon as you arrive home and store properly.
  • Store pool chemicals in a COOL, DRY, WELL VENTILATED area, away from other household products and garden chemicals.
  • Keep children and pets out of the area when using chemicals.
  • Never walk away from any product that is out, open, and in use.
  • Use recommended protective equipment such as gloves or masks when handling hazardous products.
  • Maintain good ventilation when working with the chemicals, preferably open the container outside. Pay attention to the wind when placing powdered products into the pool. If it is too windy – wait until it has calmed.
  • Never mix chemicals of any kind together. An unexpected and uncontrollable reaction may occur.
  • Designate measuring spoons/scoops for each product. Never place wet scoops back into any chemical container.
  • Make sure that containers are tightly capped or sealed before you put them away, and wash hands after working with the products.
  • Store products in the original container, up and out of reach, in a locked cabinet or location if possible.
  • Clean your storage area of products that are no longer in use, and dispose of them properly. Don’t hoard chemicals. Buy enough to do the job, and dispose of the remainder as instructed on the product label.

Most importantly, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away if you suspect a poisoning has occurred.  Post the phone number by each phone in your home and program the phone number into your cell phones.  Call anytime of the day or night if you have a question or need help.

No call is too big or too small, just call.

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