HAMPTON, Va. - The pool will certainly be a hot spot over the next few days as Hampton Roads experiences stifling heat and dangerous heat indexes.
A refreshing swim is a relief on these hot days, but it can also be harmful. The same chemicals that protect us from germs and bacteria in swimming pools and hot tubs can also pose a danger if they’re not handled correctly.
"It is a real danger. Most of the threats are the chemicals that are used or not used properly," said Dr. David Holzsager with Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4,500 people sought treatment in the emergency department for pool chemical injuries. More than one third of them were children.
Dr. Holzsager says chlorine is the culprit.
"You want to make sure the adult is handling the chemical - not the children - and that nothing is mixed," he stated.
Breathing in the fumes from the chlorine can cause respiratory distress, and swallowing it can lead to diarrhea.
"You also have to be careful of having too high of a level because that is where red eye or itchy eye comes in," explained Dr. Holzsager.
The CDC says the proper level of chlorine should be between one and three parts per million. You can check your pool with an at-home test kit that also tests for pH levels as well.
"Also, if you handle the chemicals you can use goggles or rubber gloves or respirators if they form a lot of dust," he said.
Dr. Holzsager says it's also important to shower before diving in for a dip.
"When chemicals come in contact with things like feces, urine, dirt or sweat, it will lower the chlorine content, and when you do that, obviously you will increase risk of irritation of eyes," said Dr. Holzsager.
A few other tips from CHKD: Always have your child go to the bathroom before they enter the pool so they don't use the restroom in the pool and check diapers on infants every hour.