Proper balance of chemicals

Making sure your pool has the proper balance of chemicals is important to guard against skin irritation and bacteria.

As students finish the last days of school and parents are looking to burn some of their vacation days, people of all ages have their eyes on a splash in the pool to escape the summer heat.

But with all the excitement surrounding summer it’s important to remember how to be safe while having fun in the water.

One important, but often overlooked, aspect of pool safety involves the balance of chemicals in your water to protect your body against skin irritants and bacteria. Collin Wilder, an employee of Clearview Fireplace & Patio in Oswego, says clear water is not a guarantee that the water is safe — in fact, too-clear water is a sign the water may be too acidic.

At the beginning of the season, pool owners should make sure pool chemicals are in proper balance, Wilder said. This includes checking for levels of pH, chlorine, and calcium hardness.

Wilder said that pool owners should use a test strip kit at least once a week and bring in a sample of pool water to be tested by a professional at least once a month. Eye and skin irritation and rashes are typically associated with chlorine, but Wilder said this could be a sign that the pool’s pH balance is off.

From 2005 to 2014, the United States averaged 3,536 fatal cases of unintentional drowning per year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That amounts to nearly 10 deaths per day. One in five deaths involved a person under the age of 14, and for every one person that dies, five more are sent to the emergency room for non-fatal submersion injuries.

The CDC reports non-fatal injuries involving drowning typically require hospitalization and can cause brain damage leading to lasting disabilities such as memory and learning problems, or even permanent loss of basic brain functions.

The leading risk factors involved with swimming, according to the CDC, are a lack of swimming ability, failure to wear life jackets, no certified lifeguard or designated supervisor present, and insufficient barriers around pools.

The CDC recommends swimmers maintain full cognizance and attention while swimming; that means no mixing alcohol with pool-time fun. Further, safety experts recommend that a certified lifeguard is used to oversee the pool, or that a designated sober adult in the case of residential pools always be present. 

Zachariah DeSacia, a senior at SUNY Oswego in the wellness management program and a coach for Oswego Laker Swim Club, said in a recent interview swimmers are wise to continually develop skills and instincts for safety whether or not they are a certified lifeguard.

“Learning to swim is important and everyone in the Oswego area should know how to swim because we have the lake and river,” DeSacia said.

An important skill to master outside of the pool is CPR. When it comes to drowning victims, every second counts between getting that person out of the water and getting them to a medical professional. Becoming CPR certified can mean the difference between life and death.

“CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in drowning victims,” according to the CDC website. “The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance of improved outcomes.”

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