Waterparks: Chemicals and Safety

With all the water safety instruction supplied by such institutions as the International Association of Amusement Park and Attractions, World Waterpark Association...

 together with the information provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,   I would hope that the type of incidents that occurred Thursday at the Pirate’s Cove Children’s Theme Park and Rainbow Falls Waterpark in Elk Grove, Illinois would be minimized. In this instance, both facilities are operated by the Elk Grove Park District, a division of a municipal government that is charged with public safety.

The June 18 Chicago Sun-Times reports that three children were hospitalized with inhalation injuries caused by a chemical reaction in the water around 1:00 PM Central Daylight time. The story quotes Elk Grove Fire Chief David Miller saying the parks “ran out of their normal chlorine and somehow it got mixed with another chemical they didn’t know would create a reaction. They picked it up at some additional supplier because they didn’t have enough chlorine." And simultaneously, the same two chemicals were being mixed at Rainbow Falls park but no gas was released – according to news coverage in the June 18 Chicago Daily Herald  because the materials didn’t mix together completely. Apparently, if the combination of chemicals did heat up enough, it could have caused a fire. Just imagine that possible scenario with the several hundreds of people at the two parks on a warm June day.

To me, this story screams the need for facilities to review their staff training and step up their vigilance on the safe use of chemicals. The injuries were minimized this time, but we need to learn from the incidents. All employees may not appreciate the potential dangers of the chemicals in their workplace. It may be time to find new and fresh ways to keep staff educated on preventing chemical hazards to the best of everyone’s ability, and the proper procedures to follow in the event that such a mistake should occur again.