Health & Aging: Epilepsy and Swimming

drpool-med-bookHello again, I’m Dr. Pool. Continuing our talks on Health and Aging, today’s topic is Epilepsy and Epileptic Seizures.

What are some precautionary measures one can take to prepare for or prevent epileptic seizures in a swimming pool setting?

Seizures can be caused by heat for one thing, and it is important to know other triggers and basic response measures.

I also thought some information about children with epilepsy could be useful in an emergency.

  1. Statistics and Facts
  2. Children with Epilepsy
  3. Swimming with Epilepsy

bluecrossStatistics and Facts

Epilepsy can be caused by several different factors. It can be genetic, a result of a head injury, aftermath of brain trauma, or can be brought on from a stroke or infectious disease of the brain. There are several different types of seizures that can occur, depending upon which part of the brain is afflicted.

Recording details about a seizure is necessary to better manage the epilepsy. Details such as the length of the seizure, if the person was responsive, what happened before the seizure took occurred, how the person was during the seizure – including movement and color of the face.

Those affected have epilepsy life-long and therefore need lifestyle management to minimize any seizure activity. Those who have developmental disabilities are more likely to have developed seizures or epilepsy due to any preexisting conditions.

Because there are different types and categories of seizures, it is important to know that all epileptic episodes for different people can vary – which also means that some people experience confusion, drowsiness or perform unusual activities during the epileptic seizure episode. This can cause an issue with being around the pool, as it can lead to drowning – especially if the victim is unaware of what is happening, and become confused during the epileptic episode.

bluecrossChildren with Epilepsy

Swimming lessons allow for children to develop basic skills that will keep them afloat in the water, and it is important that a swimming instructor knows that the child has epilepsy. Swim with the child, or make sure the child is in the presence of someone who is a good swimmer at all times. The child should always be in a supervised pool. Avoid swimming in natural bodies of water with virtually no lifeguards and no control over the factors – such as lakes and rivers.

When the child is boating or swimming, they should always have a brightly colored life vest on – no matter the level of swimming ability they may possess. It is important to have surrounding adults or other children wear life vests as well, to set an example for the child.

Bathing can also be dangerous – Anyone with epilepsy should never be in a bath tub without supervision. Train young children to shower with a handheld sprayer, without water – children should shower and not take baths. Make sure the bathroom door is unlocked, and open.

If a seizure episode materializes in the water, there are several things to consider. Keep supporting the child’s head up and above the water. Bring the child out of the pool and place them on their side. If the child is having trouble breathing and CPR is necessary and you know CPR, apply – however you can also call for emergency medical treatment.

bluecrossSwimming with Epilepsy

While seizure symptoms, activity and episode vary person-to-person, it is important to get the medication in quick fashion to the victim. Because an episode can occur at any time, making anything and everything dangerous. It is for this simple reason that those with epilepsy need to be supervised at all times when they are near water or whenever water is involved, whether a swimming pool or a bath tub.

A beneficial addition to any bathroom would be a call button for emergencies – but there are other preventative measurements that can be taken as well. Sliding doors can be practical, doors that can be unlocked from the outside, and removing sharp edges that may be present in shower recesses.

Overall, showers prove to be less of a risk than bath tubs for those suffering from epilepsy. It is important to maintain a close distance – within arm’s reach – of the person who has epilepsy at all times. Buoyant swimming vests that hold the person’s head up above the water are ideal, and pool lifeguards should be briefed on the situation so they too can keep watch over swimmers with epilepsy. Increase safety by not only opting to shower rather than using the bath tub, but also by sitting during showering. This allows for you to be lower to the ground and thus not have far to fall in the event of a violent seizure.

For those who may suffer falls during epileptic episodes, a doctor may recommend wearing a helmet to minimize head injury during seizures. This may be beneficial, especially near pools, as the patio and deck can be concrete, wood or other material that can cause damage to the head or brain.

While epilepsy can be worrisome and overwhelming, there are several things that can be done in preparation for a possible seizure. If properly executed, these contingency plans can save lives or just simply keep you better prepared and give you a peace of mind.

While seizure-relating drowning is rare, it also is quite preventable, when precautions are taken while swimming with epilepsy.

Get your swim on, America!

Dr. Pool

Dr. Pool


“Department for Education and Child Development (DECD). Department for Education and Child Development (DECD). N.p., 2007. Web.

“Health Information Fact Sheet #2: Seizure Disorder.” Department of Economic Security. April 2012. Web.

“Epilepsy Policy and Procedures.” Department of Economic Security. April 2012. Web.

“Water Safety for Children with Epilepsy or Seizures.” Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center Family Resource Center, Seattle, Washington 2006. Web.


How to WInterize Inground Pool Plumbing

pool-diagram-plumbingSo, you want to winterize the pool pipes, eh?

To “Winterize” pool plumbing means to use air to remove the water from all of the pipes and equipment, to prevent costly freeze damage repairs.

Today, I’ll explain how to use a blower to winterize an inground pool…

Pool Winterizing Equipment

cyclone-blower-for-poolsTo blow out your lines, you can use a 5hp wet/dry vac, or a Cyclone blower vac, shown here, which can also be used to set inground vinyl liners.

The Cyclone is the strongest and easiest to use blower for blowing out pool plumbing, but a heavy duty wet/dry vac can be used in most cases.

Air compressors with a small tank can also be used, but are the least suited, due to their high pressure / low volume design.

You’ll need a long, heavy duty extension cord, plugged into a grounded, 110V outlet, on a 20 amp circuit. If you trip breakers while blowing the lines, try plugging into the kitchen circuit.

Blowing the Lines with a Cyclone Blower

To blow out pool lines, you can do it all from one skimmer, by attaching your blower hose into the skimmer. hose-and-hose-adapter

The Cyclone comes with a 1-1/2″ hose and a hose adapter. Just thread the adapter into the skimmer and connect the hose! (2″ skimmer holes will need a 2″x1-1/2″ threaded reducer bushing, or a 2″ hose adapter.)

Wet/Dry vacs however, usually have a fat 3 or 4″ hose, that you need to connect to a smaller pipe or hose, or series of hoses, with lots of duct tape. Either thread a male pipe adapter and about 2′ of PVC pipe into the skimmer, or use a hose adapter and a 1-1/2″ filter hose. Then duct tape them together to make an air tight seal.

After you have your skimmer connection made, close other suction valves, skimmers and main drain. Set a multiport valve on waste and roll out the backwash hose. For cartridge filters or push-pull filter valves, remove the pump lid and drain plug.

Turn on your blower, and let it run until it’s just barely spitting water, or spraying droplets. You’ve just blown out the skimmer line, congratulations.

dead-head-jandy-valveTo blow the other suction lines (sk/md), you’ll need to block air flow from entering the pump. The easiest way is to reverse a 3-way valve, (known as deadheading). Remove the handle lock nut, and pull the handle up to the top of the valve stem, to bypass the stops, and close off the pipe that comes into the pump.

You can also use a #9 winterizing plug where water enters the pump, to block the air from the pump. As a last resort, you can put the multiport valve in the Closed position.skimmer-sticks

To blow other skimmers without moving the blower, thread in a hose adapter and a vacuum hose to the other skimmer; or use a PVC arrangement, shown here. Turn on the blower, and blow from skimmer to skimmer until it’s just barely spitting water from the other skimmer.

To get all the water out of the skimmer well, you often have to shut off the blower, remove the pipe or hose adapter, and let the water inside the skimmer drain into the pipe, and then blow the pipe again. Use a scoop or large sponge to remove most of the water first.

To blow out the main drain, block the airflow as above, and then open the main drain valve. After air has been bubbling strong for 30 seconds, close off the main drain valve tightly, while the air is still blowing.

cyclone-blower-for-pool-winterizationWhile the Cyclone will always blow out main drains, some wet/dry vacs will not, especially on deeper pools. If you are having trouble, check for blower/hose/valves for air loss, or lower the water level further, or give up and fill the main drain line with pool antifreeze, and hope for the best.

Now that the suction lines are blown out, you will send the air through the pump and filter, and blow out the return lines. Make sure all equipment lids are tight, and open the filter air bleeder valve. Open all return valves after the filter and turn any chlorinator knobs on high. Set multiport valve on Recirculate, or push-pull valves on Filter.

Before turning on the blower, always have a clear and unobstructed route for the air to take, no dead-ends. Turn on the blower, then remove all drain plugs on pump, filter and heater, let the water spray out, and replace plugs loosely.

You should soon see the air bubbling at the pool wall return lines. If not, check for air loss (the air has to go somewhere). As the return pipes blow, it will begin strongest out of the wall return that is closest to the pump.

plugged-returnAfter plugging the first return tightly, the other return(s) will begin to blow water/air. Plug them tightly, while they are blowing / bubbling. Pressure cleaner lines (Polaris) usually blow after the returns lines are plugged. After plugging your last line, quickly shut off the blower, and plug the skimmer with an expansion plug or threaded plug with o-ring. Winter Plugs.

Congratulations! You just winterized your pool plumbing. Double check your system, to be sure that you have blown all out pipes, aboveground and below ground. Set multiport and push pull valves at a midway setting, and remove all equipment drain plugs for storage in the pump basket.

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Pitfalls of Pool Closing

pool-pitfalls-aheadIt’s pool closing time. You sigh just thinking about it don’t you? Winterizing your pool can be a pain in the rumpus and very expensive if done incorrectly.

If you want to save yourself the stress, the alternative is hiring a professional pool company to winterize your pool. However, the average winterizing price is north of $400.

For those who take the Ice Pool Challenge of winterizing your pool, here are some pitfalls to avoid that will prevent damage and save you money.

Stained Pool Surfaces

stained-vinyl-linerA clean pool is important. Dirt and leaves can make ugly stains if left in the pool all winter. When adding any granular winterizing chemicals, dissolve them in a bucket before pouring it into the pool. If precaution is not taken undissolved granules can settle on the pool floor, staining or damaging your pool. Even when adding liquid winterizing chemicals, it is best to dilute into a clean bucket of water for even distribution.

Never add water to chemicals, Always add chemicals to water, and always be sure to rinse the bucket out in the pool between chemicals.

Bad Water Chemistry

taylor-trouibleshooter-testing-kitDuring winter It’s even more important to have balanced water chemistry in your pool to prevent corrosion or scale build up. Use a good water testing kit to ensure that your hardness, pH and alkalinity levels are balanced properly before closing your pool.

Add your winter pool chemicals after balancing the pool water chemistry. Balanced water is key to conserving your winter chemicals, and protecting your pool from stains, deposits or erosion. Calcium: 180-220; Alkalinity: 80-120; pH: 7.2-7.4

Adding Winter Chemicals

Chemicals are vital when preparing your pool for the winter months, but if not careful it can cause more damage than good. For example, don’t use chlorine tablets in a floater, which could put your pool surfaces at risk for damage.pool-winterizing-kits

Follow the instructions carefully when applying winter chemicals to your pool, some require the pool filter on while applying the chemicals. Stain prevention chemicals and Enzymes, for instance, should be added before you lower the pool water.

If you are anxious about determining the types of chemicals to use for your pool a great alternative is getting a winter pool kit. These kits have all the chemicals you need to protect your equipment and pool from the elements. Saves bundles over buying the items separately.

Filter Cleaning Chemicals

granular filter cleanerAfter the DE filter grids or Cartridge filter is removed and sprayed clean, you may want to clean the fabric more thoroughly. Avoid using an acid solution or any household cleaners. Use the correct pool filter cleaner designed for your pool filter type.

In addition, if you decide to use a pool filter cleaner during the fall, rinse extra thoroughly, and soak in a large bucket (not the pool!) afterwards to remove any remaining trace of cleanser. Then dry and store for winter, the safest place being inside the filter tank.

Pool Antifreeze

pool-antifreezeIf possible try to avoid using antifreeze in your pool pipes,and never pour it into your pump, filter, heater or chlorinator. Instead, make sure the pipes are emptied out with a high volume air blower.

Filling the pipes with pool antifreeze is expensive, and even though it’s non-toxic, and has little effect on water chemistry, do you really want gallons of propylene glycol in your pool water?

Chlorine-Free Shock

chlorine-free-shock-Using a chlorine–free shock will get rid of impurities in the pool, and won’t disrupt the effectiveness from other winterizing chemicals being applied.

Chlorine pool shock can break apart polymer-based chemicals such as algaecide, knock minerals out of solution, and can etch erode plaster, fade and weaken vinyl finishes; not recommended for winterization.


When all is said and done, taking the time to close your pool properly will save a lot of hassle come opening time in the spring. Do the work now to clean the pool and store equipment  safely so it can be used many years to come. Basically, the more tender loving care you put into your pool at closing time, the more it will give back – for years to come!

Jaquelynn Pettinato
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Aboveground Pool Winterization Accessories

Winterizing an above ground pool would be easy – if it weren’t for Old Man Winter! Wind, Snow and Ice and will soon be on its way, and for an aboveground pool, these can be particularly troublesome. Make mistakes with … Continue reading