Is chlorine dangerous? What happens if I spill chlorine? Can I handle it by myself, or do I need professional help? Could it have any health-related consequences? How should I store chlorine properly?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions or if you aren’t entirely sure about the answers, you need to read the following.
Having a pool in your house is amazing, but it can also be very demanding. Pools need to be constantly maintained and cleaned. The most common chemical used for this is chlorine. Chlorine is a chemical that is used mainly in household cleaning products and especially for the cleaning and maintenance of pools, but also for the disinfection of water, sanitation process for sewage and industrial waste, production of paper and cloth, cleaning products – including household bleach, which is chlorine dissolved in water–, among others.
Due to its unpredictability, it may be a hazard to your health if used unsafely and with no previous instruction. So, it is very important that you are well informed in order to act correctly and securely around chlorine. Handling this chemical is no easy task, and you should always be aware of the recommendations so as to prevent any possible consequences.
What Should I Do For A Chlorine Spill?
If there is a chlorine spill, there are lots of possible effects that could result in your exposure to the chemical. Not to scare you, but to raise awareness about these hazards if you don’t handle a chlorine spill correctly and safely. If spilled, chlorine can take up to different states, that depend on the temperature: liquid or gas. Therefore, exposition to chlorine can happen from breathing as well as from the direct contact to the liquid.
To breathe chlorine gas is very dangerous and can have severe consequences on your airways. Other forms of exposure to chlorine may come from eye or skin contact –with gas or liquid–. Whatever the form of exposure is, being in contact with chlorine is very dangerous. The effects on your health will depend on the type of exposure –eye, skin, or lungs– as well as the dose of chlorine and the duration of exposure. Therefore, if there is a chlorine spill, you should be aware.
The most common symptoms of chlorine effects on health are:
- The irritation of your airways and breathing difficulties.
- Feeling your throat sore, coughing, and gasping.
- Feeling tightness in your chest.
- The irritation –or redness– of your eyes and skin.
How Do I Handle Chlorine Safely?
You should always handle chlorine safely and try to prevent the spilling or leaking of the chemical. If a chlorine spill has occurred, and you’ve been exposed to it, either directly or by entering a room where it was spilled, you should immediately:
- Move away from the area where you think you were exposed, fast.
- Remove any clothing that may have chlorine on it. If it has been exposed to chlorine, place your clothing inside a plastic bag, and seal the bag tightly.
- Quickly wash any chlorine from your skin with huge amounts of soap and water, and flush your eyes with very big amounts of water.
- If you feel any of the symptoms listed above, you should seek medical attention right away.
Once you are safe and have taken care of your health, you should handle the cleanup of the chemical. At all moments you should protect your eyes and skin. It is highly recommended that you use safety equipment for this, like gloves and goggles. Prevent, at all times, to breathe, touch, or be in contact with chlorine.
To clean up chlorine, you should:
- 1. Prevent the spread of dust and vapors. If the spill is in a closed place, open windows and doors for air ventilation.
- 2. Control the spread of chlorine and absorb the liquid with rags.
- 3. Once the chemical is absorbed, if possible, allow the fumes in the rags to evaporate outdoors. This should be done only in a safe place, far away from children and pets.
- 4. After the evaporation of the chemical, collect and wrap the rugs in a newspaper. Then, place them in a sealed plastic bag.
- 5. Dispose of these materials with your trash. Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products. Chlorine may react or explode.
- 6. Decontaminate the area and affected place.
All of these steps need to be followed carefully. However, these instructions are made to handle a small chlorine spill. If the size of the spill or the amount of chlorine you use is bigger, you should contact professionals that will instruct you how to handle the problem correctly and safely. In any case, you should take care not to expose yourself to chlorine.
How to properly store chlorine
If you decide to use and buy chlorine, it’s very important that you store it safely. You should prevent spills but, you should also be prepared for them. Therefore, it is indispensable that you know how to keep chlorine.
Firstly, you should store the chlorine in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. It has to be far away from heat and should be wall-ventilated so as to avoid any possible inhalation. This chemical shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
Of course, it should be kept in an area separated from where people constantly are, preferably, a basement, a shed, or outdoor storage. Pay close attention to keeping it especially far away from children and pets.
Chlorine should be really far away from incompatible materials. Keep it far away from other substances that may be flammable. It is very recommended that it’s placed on the floor, so as to prevent the expansion of the chemical in case of a leak or spill.
Chlorine should be properly labeled and the date it was opened and its disposal date should be very clear. Keep it inside its original casing. It should be kept perfectly closed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.