Swimming pools are supposed to be fun places to relax in on hot days, but there is a little-known risk that could make the pool one of the most dangerous places to be, and it’s not drowning. Electrocution is a risk in any pool that has electrical appliances near it or electrical components in it like lights.
If you’ve been swimming plenty of times, this may sound bizarre. But it is a real threat. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Red Cross say that there were about 60 deaths and 50 non-fatal but serious shocks between 1990 and 2003. Pool electrocution is not as rare as you may think.
Pool shocks have happened in Florida and have resulted in major injury and even death. However, you can avoid this risk by taking the right steps both before anyone gets in the pool, and if you see someone being shocked while in the water.
Why Do These Shocks Happen?
Typically the cause is an electric current escaping into the pool water. That “escape” is usually a result of faulty wiring in the form of bad grounding, bad bonding, old wiring, bad wiring in general, or defective appliances like pumps.
Pool lights have been culprits in the past. While there are low voltage lights available that reduce the amount of electricity needed near the water, it is still possible for the lights to be defective. Short circuits in the home’s general wiring to can travel into the pool wiring, shocking everyone in the water.
Some pool shocks also occur when an electrical appliance that’s plugged in falls into the water.
What Can You Do to Prevent It?
The most important preventative actions you can take is having your pool wiring and appliances inspected and replacing all old wiring as soon as possible. If you moved in and never changed any of the existing wiring, and the house is more than just a few years old, get an electrician who knows about pool electricity to inspect everything. Another preventative action you can take is making sure your pool lights are low voltage.
Keep anything that’s plugged in several feet away from the pool and from any wet ground. Currents can travel through even a thin film of water over the ground. Teach children to dry their hands before touching appliances. Consider upgrading to ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These outlets are designed to shut off the flow of electricity if they sense a surge or that the electrical current may be flowing into the water.
If you have any exterior outlets around your home, any open sockets need to have covers placed over them. If water splashes into the open socket, there’s a risk it can electrocute anyone touching the appliance plugged into the other socket.
Have your home’s regular electric system inspected, too, to avoid short circuits that could travel to the pool.
What Should You Do if You See Someone Being Electrocuted?
Although you’ll want to help, you should never jump into a pool filled with electrified water, even for a second, because that’s long enough for the current to shock you too.
Instead, grab the person with a fiberglass rescue hook. The fiberglass will protect you from the water. Do not grab the person while any part of them is still in the water. The electricity could transfer from the water through them and into you. Remember, you can best help those being electrocuted by pulling them out, not by jumping in.
The experienced technicians at All American Air & Electric Inc., can inspect your pool and help you feel confident your pool is safe and ready for summer relaxation.