When it comes to pool safety, swimming pool electrocution may be rare, but that comes as small comfort to anyone that has had their lives forever changed by it. Although it is not very common, as long as pool electrocution is still a possibility it is important that you understand the warning signs and know what to do to keep it from happening to you or someone you love.
Do Pools Pose an Electrocution Risk?
Typically, electrical accidents involving a pool fit into one of two categories: risky behavior (such as using radios, TVs, or extension cords near the water) or hazardous equipment (malfunctioning or improperly installed equipment, most often pool lights). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is most concerned about the following electrical hazards in pools and hot tubs:
- Faulty underwater lighting
- Electrical wiring that has not been inspected in years
- Sump pumps, power washers, or vacuums that are not grounded
- Electrical appliances (such as radios and TVs) and extension cords falling into or being pulled into the water
According to the CPSC, these hazards present an even greater risk if the lighting, circuits, and nearby receptacles are not protected by Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCIs).
It is common knowledge that water and electricity do not mix, but you should know that you don't have to be in the water or touching the water to be electrocuted; holding a metal brush or net handle or touching a metal pool ladder that is in electrified water can also cause serious injury or even death. You can even be shocked simply by touching another person that is being electrocuted. Electrical shocks in swimming pools are very rare, but you should still know what to do in case of electrified water and what to look out for.
Signs That Your Pool is Electrified
Knowing the warning signs of an electrified pool is incredibly important and may save your life. Feeling a tingling sensation, the inability to move, muscle cramps, or feeling like something is holding you in place are all signs of impending electrocution. In addition, if you notice passive or motionless swimmers, panicked behavior, or swimmers actively avoiding an area or bather, these are all signs of possible electricity in the water. Also keep an eye out for any underwater lights that do not function properly. If a light is flickering or only working intermittently, get it fixed as soon as possible.
How to Keep from Being Electrocuted
The best and easiest way to keep your pool or spa safe from electrical hazards is through regular, timely maintenance. Upgrade your pool lighting as necessary. The newer the lighting, the less likely it is to malfunction and cause an issue. Have the electrical components of your pool inspected periodically to make sure you don't run into faulty wiring. If you are building a pool, have all of the electrical components inspected before it is finished being built; if you are buying a house with a pool already installed, include a pool inspection before buying the house. It is important to watch for signs of faulty equipment (flickering lights, erratic movements, etc), but never attempt to do any of the electrical work yourself.
Keep any electrical equipment at least five feet from the edge of the pool. This is one of the most common ways for electrical incidents to happen in a pool. Monitor any children or intoxicated bathers. A watchful eye not only keeps them safe from slipping or drowning, but it may also notice the signs of an impending electrocution. Most importantly, make sure you have a plan if someone is electrocuted. You need to turn off the power, calmly and quickly get everyone out of the pool (making sure they do not touch any metal fixtures), and call an ambulance.
The first step in most pool safety as well as spa safety measures is preventive planning. Following any codes that might apply to your city or state, maintaining your pool, and having it checked out by a qualified professional are key to keeping you and your loved ones safe. Remember that electrocution can also be dangerous to those who are not in the pool. Make sure that you yourself don't become a conductor to increase the chance for survival for both the victim and the rescuer. Print out or write an emergency plan on what to do in the event of electrocution.
Proper pool maintenance includes healthy water chemistry. Ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced with pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.