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Is Your Garden Hose Safe?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 30 Apr 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Is Your Garden Hose Safe?

A garden hose is a very useful piece of gardening equipment. It also seems a pretty innocuous tool but it can cause harm in terms of the way it is stored and used unless you take care and know what you’re dealing with.

The Benefits of Garden Hose Reels

Garden hose reels are probably the easiest, safest and tidiest way of storing your garden hose. You can buy them as stationary models that you can either place on the ground near to the garden or they can be mounted onto a wall or post.

If you’re mounting a garden hose off the ground, make sure that it is attached correctly and securely. It could cause severe injury if it was to become loose and fall off onto your feet, for example, and this could be even more dangerous if you have young children and it fell onto them.

The added benefit of garden hose reels is that unlike hoses which can be scattered about the garden, they prevent the hose being tripped over or, worse still, run over by a lawn mower. They also prevents you having to waste time untangling knots from the hose and it prevents kinks to the hose which can result in poor performance and even tears in the hose.

When it comes to safety with hoses, however, there is an even greater concern – that being the potential presence of lead.

Garden Hoses & Lead

It might come as a surprise to some people but many hoses leach harmful chemicals including lead which can be extremely dangerous. This is caused by water left standing in the hose over a prolonged period. Additionally, many hoses are manufactured using polyvinyl chloride which uses lead as a stabiliser.

How Is The Lead Dangerous?

Lead can cause harm to many different parts of the human anatomy including both the nervous and digestive systems, vital organs like the heart and kidneys and it can even lead to irreversible brain damage. Therefore, it’s crucial that people don’t drink water from a garden hose. Perhaps as an adult, this is never going to be a problem.

However, if you think back to your childhood days, you’ll almost certainly be able to recall taking a sip of water from a garden hose so it’s predominantly children which are the major concern and who need to be warned of the dangers. They don’t necessarily even need to be drinking from it.

Filling up a paddling pool with a garden hose that contains lead or squirting the hose at people in an effort to cool them down may be fun but can also lead to an intake of water through the mouth.

What Can Be Done To Avoid The Dangers?

There are a variety of hoses on sale so you should look to buy one which has a label on it saying ‘lead free’ or ‘water safe’ or seek advice from the salesperson. By all means, with due care and attention, hoses which have a label stating ‘not intended for drinking water’ or ‘do not drink from hose’ are still safe to use providing they are used correctly as the chances are these types of hose will contain lead and/or other kinds of leaching chemicals.

If you do buy one of the latter types however, it is better to store it in a cool place like a garden shed, for example, as leaving it exposed to the sun can make the leaching worse. Hoses with brass fittings are also more prone to leach lead into the water.

Other Useful Tips

One of the best tips for buying hoses which are safe is to look for those which are specifically designed for things like camping or boating use as these are more likely to be ‘water safe’. Also, remember to flush out your garden hose each time before using it. This will help to remove any insects and any slime or bacteria that may be growing inside it.

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