Pool Safety–Chemicals

My family has learned over the years to dread this week every May.  Pool opening–I turn into POOL MAN on a mission to turn a murky swamp into a pristine blue spa.  This year I did it in record time–barely 48 hours– from opening to crystal clear, and yesterday I enjoyed my first summer swim workout in my backward, always  a great day for me.

Let’s talk a bit about pool chemical safety.

US Emergency Rooms report >4500 pool chemical related injuries annually. >1/2 are at home, > 1/3 involve children and 2/3 occur in summertime (Memorial Day to Labor Day).  There has been little change in these numbers over the last 2 decades, but I find a bit positive in that number: given the increasing prevalence of back yard pools in our communities over that time, the static number of accidents probably means that we are doing a better safety job in this area, at least on the margins, anyway.

The most common accidents involve inhaled toxic fumes/dust; other common injuries occur to the eyes or skin.  Mostly this is due to accidental spread or splashing of powders or liquids or from fumes that arise from opening of containers.  Here are a few suggestions to help protect your family:

  • Keep all pool chemicals out of reach/contact of children or animals.
  • Read AND  FOLLOW directions for use carefully.
  • Whenever possible, wear protective gear–gloves, eyewear, even respirators–when handling pool chemicals.
  • Be cautious about any mixing of pool chemicals–especially chlorine and acids can pose particular dangers.
  • Storage rooms should have adequate ventilation and lighting.
  • Storage room interior should have enough temperature control to keep < 95 degrees F /35 C.
  • Storage rooms should be insulated to keep chemicals dry.
  • No smoking or flame around pool chemicals.
  • No power equipment or fuel around pool chemicals.
  • No food or beverage around pool chemicals.
  • Keep storage areas free of debris/refuse like rags, loose paper.
  • ALWAYS store chemicals in original, clearly marked containers.
  • Most chemical treatment guidelines recommend several hours after pool application prior to swimming.  Know those rules and follow them.
  • Poison control hotline number 1-800-222-1222.  24/7.


Please check out some of my “golden oldies” on pool/water safety from prior blog posts. Let the summer begin. Be safe and have fun!!

Send along questions and comments, and thanks for following.



High Caffeine “Energy” Drinks and Children

A recent article in my professional journal “Infectious Diseases in Children” by Bhargavi Kola MD and  Sandrine Defeu MPH reviewed important information regarding energy drinks consumed by children.  Let’s discuss.

Energy drinks claim to boost energy, confidence, athleticism, and immunity.  Red Bull was the 1st US brand marketed in the 90’s. Since then others have followed–popular names like Sobe Adrenaline Rush and No Fear, Amp Energy, Rock Star, Full Throttle, Monster.  They have lots of ingredients, but by far the most potent and impactful is caffeine.  Recall–caffeine is a DRUG with various effects on the body, the most significant being a stimulant. It wakes you up, increases heart rate and blood pressure.  Caffeine concentrations in these products vary; there are no official requirements from any government entity at any level to list them–it is completely up to the manufacturer to what extent that is done and ACCURATE.  The FDA places no limit on serving amount; 10mg caffeine/oz is common but some are loaded with up to 500mg/serving.  Note that the average cup of coffee has about 150mg; the AAP recommends a maximum dose for young people of 100mg/day.

These products are directly and aggressively marketed to youth through targeted TV ads and social media postings.  Yearly estimates show that young people have >120 viewing events annually for these sales pitches and 1/3 of teens report using energy drinks at least occasionally.  Kids drink them believing that they will make them more alert for school, driving, or to enhance workout performance and results.  There is no real data to support any of those assumptions: taking those drinks will wake you up but that is not nearly the same as greater concentration or performance and has nothing to do with workout efficiency; the immunity claims are little more than poppycock.

Unintentional effects are not uncommon.  I routinely see patients with sleep disruption caused by drinking this stuff. Other more concerning effects are increases in heart rate and hypertension, palpitations, headaches, abdominal pain or even GI bleeding, and anxiety.  There is lots of sugar(120-180mg) and sodium(340mg/8 oz) which can increase the risk of kidney disease or “metabolic syndrome”(hypertension, high lipids, adult diabetes).

In the US there are approximately 5000 calls to ER’s and poison centers regarding energy drink misuse, 2600 children <19 years and 90% of those will require treatment. Also recall that nowadays a substantial number of youth carry various psychiatric diagnoses treated with lots of different psychoactive medications (ADHD, depression, anxiety, even psychosis). There is almost no data on the interaction of caffeine with these potent agents.  Thus the AAP states “energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.”

I concur. To be more awake get a full night’s rest; academic achievement comes from dedicated study and athletic performance from putting in the time and hard work to develop those strengths and skills(talent helps). None of these things can be found in a bottle and it’s vital that we as parents convey this reality to our children.

Thanks for following.