Dubai: A pair of Dubai-based twins had to be rushed to hospital after they suffered a severe bout of chlorine poisoning in the swimming pool of their home at The Villa, XPRESS has learnt.
Sarah Foyster, the mother of the seven-year-old twins, said the incident occurred recently when they were swimming in the newly constructed pool with their eight-year-old cousins who were visiting from Britain.
"It was around half past five in the evening when the girls were outside, going in and out of the pool. We were sitting inside from where we could see them but suddenly things went wrong," she said.
Reliving those anxious moments, she said she heard her two girls coughing out loud and before she knew it, they were running inside. What followed was a nightmare. "They could hardly breathe and their eyes were streaming. They just collapsed on the floor."
Sarah's husband tried to give them first aid while she had already dialled 999. As luck would have it, the ambulance could not find their villa immediately. So they decided to take the girls in their own vehicle to Emirates Road where they met the ambulance.
Although the paramedics tried to stabilise the girls, they were rushed to Latifa Hospital where they were treated for gas inhalation. "They were put on the nebuliser for around two hours and their X-rays were taken. They were sick the whole night. It was awful. But thankfully by 11am the next morning, they turned around."
Sarah said the gas inhalation occurred when a representative from the pool maintenance company they had contracted came in through the garden without notice and emptied granules of chlorine into the water pump at the far end of the pool.
"The granules exploded into a gas ball which quickly spread in the water. My twins were inside the pool when it happened while their cousins were out."
The pool boy did not think it fit to test the pool first or ask the girls to get out before emptying the granules. "He didn't inform us either. In our ignorance, we had trusted the company to do their job right. But we realised we could not afford to do that. If this had happened in the UK, the pool company would probably have been shut down."
Not wanting to name the company, she said she and her husband had talked it through with the officials and the matter was settled. "They have changed the way the pool is cleaned but that doesn't stop us now from doing our own tests to check the level of chemicals."
"We wanted to bring this incident to light as we are anxious that it doesn't happen to anyone else. We must all be aware and do our homework, not just trust someone else, especially when it comes to health and safety," she added.
What is chlorine poisoning?
Chlorine-based disinfectants are used in swimming pools to prevent exposure to infectious diseases while swimming. When managed by competent professionals, the amount of chlorine used does not endanger our health. However, excessive levels can irritate and burn the eyes, nose, throat and airways. In severe cases, they can cause breathing difficulties, lung collapse, pulmonary injury, and even asthma.
Most chlorine exposures occur via inhalation. Low-level exposure to chlorine in air cause eye/skin/airway irritation, sore throat and cough. Chlorine's odour provides adequate early warning of its presence, but also causes olfactory fatigue or adaptation, reducing awareness of one's prolonged exposure at low concentrations. At higher levels of exposure, signs and symptoms may progress to chest tightness, wheezing, dyspnea and bronchospasm. Severe exposure may result in noncardiogenic pulmonary oedema, which may be delayed for several hours. Ingestion of chlorine dissolved in water can cause corrosive tissue damage of the gastrointestinal tract.
Regular swimmers shower before and after a swim to fight the effect of chlorine on hair and skin.