Toxic Chemicals among Swimming Pool Dangers

While drowning is perhaps the most well-known danger associated with public and private swimming pools and spas, swimming pool accident lawyers in Oklahoma know that it is far from the only danger.  Certainly, drowning is a risk, particularly in pools without adequate supervision or lifesaving devices.  However, swimming pool injuries also occur from diving board accidents, slips and falls, malfunctioning pool drains, and even the caustic chemicals used to sanitize pool water. An incident last week brought national attention to the hazards of pool chemicals when approximately 80 people, many of whom were children, were sickened at a public pool.  According to witnesses, "mayhem" ensued when an "explosion of acid" caused dozens of children to begin vomiting.  Though investigation is incomplete, tentative reports show that toxic chlorine gas caused nausea, vomiting, respiratory distress, eye irritation, and other symptoms at the Garfield Park Pool.  Investigators believe that a pool sanitizing solution called ACID Magic, saying that it can cause dangerous levels of toxicity if improperly balanced. Because of the high number of victims, children were taken by bus to four area hospitals, with one child who refused treatment on the scene later requiring emergency room care for swollen eyes and chest irritation.  While the incident occurred Thursday, seven victims remained hospitalized on Friday, including a pool employee who may be able to provide some answers as to what happened. Swimming pools can be places of fun, relaxation, and family entertainment.  However, they can also be home to devastating illness, injury, and death.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports finding safety violations at as many as one in eight public pools, and the Water Quality and Health Council warns of dangerous bacteria in poorly balanced pools.  The problem of improperly balanced pools resulting in chemical toxicity or disease-causing bacteria has led some experts to encourage parents to buy test strips to monitor PH and chlorine levels before allowing children to swim. The editors of Prevention magazine provided a list of warning signs that show a swimming pool, lake, or ocean may be particularly dangerous.  Included in the list are distracted pool attendants and cloudy water.  Not only can an inattentive lifeguard fail to act quickly to prevent a drowning, but other negligent employees may not consistently monitor the chlorine and PH levels of a pool for optimum sanitation. Cloudy or murky water is a sign of poor maintenance, and lack of visibility can be a hazard as well.  The editors highlighted this danger by pointing to an incident in which a woman drowned in a public pool, but her body was not discovered for two days, as the murky water obscured the view of pool employees and swimmers, who continued to use the pool as normal while the woman's corpse was submerged in the dingy water. Before swimming in public or private pools, it is important to take a few minutes to review safety protocols and see that everything seems to be in place.  Are lifeguards or experienced swimmers supervising?  Are flotation devices and lifesaving tools readily available?  Are attendants or responsible adults carefully monitoring pool chemical levels?  Is the pool equipped with VGB-compliant drain covers?  By reviewing safety information and finding out as much as possible about the pool, you can maximize your potential for fun while minimizing any risk of swimming pool injury.