Why Mixing Chlorine Can Have Explosive Consequences
Here’s a scenario – you’ve just got your pool installed and in an enthusiastic attempt to get it up to swimming conditions, you have mixed the chemicals in a quick and slap-happy way. Stop and hold the phone right there – that’s how accidents happen. Don’t believe us? Well here are two recent chlorine accidents in Sydney to give you pause for thought. One happened in a backyard and the other happened at a public venue. Don’t wait until the proverbial hits the fan. At the end you will also find a handy guide to chlorine safety.
Clinton Maynard’s Story
All it took was the retailer to withhold one vital piece of information, for Clinton Maynard’s life to be turned upside-down. He was hospitalised in St George hospital following a chlorine accident in his backyard last December. He was following the instructions of the retailer who forgot to tell him one key step in the process. Although equally important to know, Maynard claims that the instructions on the chemical packaging didn’t mention the vital step either.
Maynard was preparing to correct the water of his aboveground pool with a shock treatment, following advice from his local pool shop after the pool had gone green.
On the advice of the retailer, he used two kilograms of stabilised granular chlorine and premixed it with water. He used a bucket that was reserved only for mixing chlorine, and had never been used for other chemicals. However, he was never told to put the water in first – either verbally by the pool shop, or on the chlorine packaging.
After this within about 30 to 40 seconds there was a loud and enormous explosion followed by a series of smaller explosions.
In his own words, Clinton described it. “The blast was very loud and luckily our neighbours were next door. They ran over and hosed me off and got my clothes off me. They saved me from burns and saved my eyesight. They called an ambulance and the paramedics put an apparatus on my eyes and washed each eyeball with ten litres of water.”
Maynard was rushed to hospital in critical condition and five others were also injured. “In all, six people were taken to hospital. I was critical, but also my neighbours, my wife, the fire-fighter who hosed me down and the paramedic all had to go to hospital. That’s how big it was. Even the dog had to go to the vet.” He said.
Luckily, the quick actions of the neighbours saved Maynard his sight. The ophthalmologist was surprised, that given the severity of the explosion, he wasn’t blinded. Maynard also counts himself lucky that his lungs weren’t permanently damaged.
Clinton Maynard and his wife
Chlorine Mixed With Acid at the Park Hyatt
Another incident happened in Sydney on the 24th of February this year at the Park Hyatt Hotel in The Rocks, Sydney. Six people were taken to hospital and 100 evacuated, when hydrochloric acid and chlorine were mixed together, causing toxic fumes to be emitted. All of the hotel’s patrons were later released from hospital after being treated for minor respiratory problems from inhaling the toxic fumes. The incident happened in the morning, with fire crews arriving there quickly to remove the chemicals and ventilate the area.
Although the response was quick, the fumes had already permeated the whole building leading to the evacuation and hospitalisation of some staff and patrons. Although the exact sequence of events is not known, the Park Hyatt is conducting and investigation to find out how it happened.
What both of these incidents highlight, is that one can never afford to become lax about pool chemicals. The consequences of mixing the wrong ingredients together in the wrong quantities or the using the wrong technique can be disastrous. Here’s an informative video on the topic:
Safety Tips for Handling Chemicals
• Chemicals can be highly volatile and should be handled with care.
• Always carefully read the instructions on the packaging.
• Always add chemicals to water, not water to the chemicals. This is because chlorine dust can blow back if water is poured into the chlorine, and that can be very dangerous, potentially permanently damaging your lungs.
• Never use the same bucket for different chemicals. Have a different bucket for each chemical.
• Never mix chemicals and never mix liquid chlorine with dry chlorine – that has the potential to cause an explosion.
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