With the humid summer days lately, there's no better way to have fun, relax, and cool off than at the pool—whether it's your own backyard or in the neighborhood. While we hear a lot about water safety, another thing to talk to your kids about is chlorine. The common household chemical is used to keep your pools clean and free of bacteria, but it can be dangerous if used improperly or if accidentally ingested.

Any pool owner or lifeguard understands the importance of keeping their pool clean and clear for swimmers. Although it's great for keeping pools germ-free, chlorine can have a significant drying effect on skin and hair. Chlorine cracks your hair's protective cuticles and removes the natural lubricant known as sebum, which can lead to split ends. It also removes the skin's lubricant oil and makes you feel stiff and itchy.

To prevent skin dryness and green hair:

  • Wear a swimming cap
  • Apply waterproof sunscreen to skin
  • To prevent your hair from turning green, use a leave-in conditioner before swimming
  • Always make sure to be hydrated and to take a shower as soon as possible!

To avoid accidental exposures, proper storage of pool chemicals is vital. It's important to store the chlorine and other pool chemicals in a locked cabinet away from a child's reach. If you have young children, and need to treat the pool, try to find a time to do so when they're not around, and don't give in to the temptation to let them help.

Even with careful use and storage, accidents may still occur. If you, or your child, accidentally inhales chlorine dust, move to fresh air, and away from the area of exposure immediately. Similar to the dry skin you may experience after swimming, when inhaled, pool chlorine can dry out your nose and throat, leading to coughing or wheezing, as well as a burning sensation in those areas. You can help to restore moisture by going to the bathroom, turning on the hot water, and allowing the room to fill with moist, steamy air for approximately 20 minutes.

If symptoms persist or worsen after up to three steam treatments, it is important to seek medical attention. If you believe that the chlorine may have gotten on your face (including eyes) or other exposed skin, rinse the area with warm, running water for 15 minutes. If your child swallows a pool chemical, do not attempt to induce vomiting. Instead, offer them a glass of water to help dilute the chemical in their stomach and call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222). There are pharmacists and nurses available 24 hours a day that can guide you through an accidental chlorine exposure. We hope these chlorine facts and tips will help you and your kids have a safe and healthy summer at the pool!