by Rob Cox, November 7, 2010
Swimming Pool Chemical Safety
When I was running pool service routes, I would never leave chlorine on site. I had the obsessive fear that a bucket of chlorine tablets would be left with the lid loose, which would allow rain and moisture to get into the chlorine bucket. This creates a great deal of fumes, which can overpower even a big guy like me. But that was not my fear - my concern was that a toddler would wander over to the chlorine bucket, push off the loose lid, take a whiff, and fall head first into the bucket. Expiring soon thereafter, of course.
Then there was the time when I mixed drops (just drops!) of a pool algaecide and chlorine shock. I was looking for a chlorine scoop in the back of my truck, couldn't find one, so pulled out my leatherman tool, cut the top off of a algaecide bottle, and used it for a scoop. I remember looking into the scoop, seeing the shock flecks mixed with a very small amount of brownish poly-60 algaecide. I studied it, but it seemed to not be reacting at all. Shrugged, dropped it back into the half full 100lb drum of Cal Hypo, and carried my small bucket of shock out to the pool. After 5-10 minutes, I had a raging inferno in the back of my pickup truck. Violently raging.
So here's some tips on managing dangerous pool chemicals -
1. Store pool Chemicals out of Reach of Children: This would mean on an upper shelf or locked cabinet.
2. Store pool chemicals in a cool, dry location. Very hot or wet locations can cause fumes to develop inside the bucket or bag.
3. Store pool chemicals in separate locations. Keep acids far away from chlorine. Keep different chlorine types separated. This is especially important while transporting pool chemicals. In the event of an accident, mixed pool chemicals could shut down the beltway!
4. Do not allow any contamination of pool chemicals. The smallest amount of foreign substances, such as other pool chemicals, flecks of leaves or dirt - can react with your pool chemicals, resulting in fire or explosion.
5. Use a clean, dry chemical scoop. Small flecks or dirt or trace amounts of other pool chemicals can react violently.
6. Keep all pool chemical lids on tightly. Lock them down - they are fairly childproof, if installed correctly.
7. Never Mix Pool Chemicals. Add them to the pool separately.
8. Add chemicals to water - not water to chemicals. When pre-mixing a chemical solution - fill the bucket with water, and add the pool chemical to the bucket, while stirring.
9. While adding pool chemicals, be up-wind. Strong winds can blow broadcasted chemicals back into your face, or all over the pool deck.
10. Follow all packaging instructions. All pool chemicals have very specific instructions in use and storage. For instance. 1lb shock packages will tell you to use the entire packet at one time. Half full bags of shock laying around is quite dangerous!