Early this month a teenage boy died and 14 others were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning due to a malfunctioning indoor pool heater. While this tragedy is shocking, it is unfortunately not the first time this has happened.

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned, and when too much of it is present in the air, it replaces oxygen within our red blood cells causing significant tissue and muscle damage. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause massive brain damage and death. Some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are dizziness, weakness, fatigue, vomiting, and confusion. If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must get yourself to an open air space as soon as possible before you are rendered unconscious.

With proper installation, ventilation and maintenance, there should never be any issues with a carbon monoxide leak from a pool heater causing personal injury. Sadly in these cases, malfunctioning machinery and negligence may have formulated devastating incidents. Gas pool heaters have made great technological strides over the years, including the ability to remotely control your heater; however, all gas heaters will produce carbon monoxide and must be maintained with the utmost care and up to date mechanical knowledge.

One way to prevent this kind of tragedy is to have your gas heater placed outside. It should be placed away from windows and openings to any nearby buildings. If this is not an option, for an indoor pool or other reasons, you must have the ventilation inspected and maintained by a certified pool professional. In both of the above mentioned cases, the pool heater was placed in an unsafe room or the ventilator was not functioning properly. As these tragedies have taught us, this is an incident that gives no second chances. It is important to always follow the existing codes for installation, they are there to protect the public.

The tragedy that occurred in North Carolina not only had malfunctioning equipment, but the heater had not been approved by the licensing department nor had it been installed correctly. The proper installation of a heater lays the foundation for its longevity. Maintenance can only do so much if a faulty heater or improper installation practice was used. Leaks are not the only issue that you should be concerned with either. Any blockages from dirt, leaves, or even dead animals can cause a backup in the system that in some cases have resulted in explosions. We recommend having your heater checked annually by your pool heater professional, and do not hesitate if you think that anything is wrong with your heater. Your pool heater professional will be able to come and inspect your unit to help prevent any of these circumstances.

Your safety is our utmost priority, and we at American Pool are always happy to answer any questions and concerns you may have. Please contact us to set up your next pool or heater inspection, and we’ll make sure your equipment will continue to run smoothly for many seasons to come.