Electrocution is an injury or death caused by electrical shock. When there is electricity in a pool, the water could be electrocuted. And since it’s an excellent conductor of electricity, it increases the swimmer’s chance of getting electrocuted.
What Do Swimming Pool Electrocution Statistics Say?
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has been 33 recorded fatalities involving electrocutions in swimming pool, hot tubs, and spas since 2002-2018. The CPSC also add there were 23 spa and pool electrocution deaths recorded between 2002 and 2004.
A news outlet in 2014 reported an incident where multiple children were electrocuted in a residential swimming pool in Hialeah, Florida. Two kids ended up unconscious, but fortunately, they survived.
How common is pool electrocution? Each year, an unknown number of people get electrocuted and end up suffering from Electric Shock Drowning. When you get shocked, you suffer muscular paralysis, rendering you helpless and resulting in you drowning.
What are the Causes of Pool Electrocution?
Many things can cause pool electrocution, but the leading causes can be:
Improperly Grounded wire: if your pool or dock light earth wire isn’t properly grounded, the electricity could be leaked to the pool water to act as the ground. If anyone was to swim in such waters, they risk getting electrocuted.
Underwater Lights: If you have installed 12v or 120v underwater lights, they could be a culprit of pool electrocution if the fixtures’ installation wasn’t done right or there was an interference with their electrical line.
Electric Pool Equipment: Your pool pumps, filters, vacuum, and anything that uses electricity can cause electrical shock. Typically, their wiring fixture is protected from such incidents, but if something happens and the electrical wire gets attached to the water supply, that could cause electrocution.
Extension and Power Cords: If any power extension or power cord runs around the swimming pool, they can leak electricity to the near water, which flows back to the swimming pool and cause electric shock.
You might be using them to supply the power to one of the swimming pool equipment like a pool cleaner or pool robot. You might also be using it during a pool part to power the lights, sound system, and the likes.
Other causes of electrical shock and electrocution in a pool can be electrical outlets or switches, or overhead power lines.
How can you know if you or someone else is receiving an electrical shock?
You may experience a tingling sensation or feel muscle cramps, especially when there’s a small electric shock in the swimming pool. You can also feel as if something is holding you in the same place.
One of the signs a swimmer is being electrocuted while swimming is unsettled or panic behavior. You might also see a motionless or passive swimmer and likely to drown without calling for help.
The underwater lights could also malfunction. If you notice the turning on and off or flickering and the swimmers act strange, motionless, or actively moving away from one specific area, there might be an electric shock in a pool.
How to Test Pool Water for Electricity
The best tool you can use to test your pool water for electricity is a Shock Alert designed to run on 3-AA batteries. All you need is to place it into your pool water. It has two LEDs with one flashing green to show the water safe and the other flashing red to show electricity presence.
When it detects electricity, it will also produce a loud beeping alarm to warn the swimmers. It comes with an extended cord to help you remove it from the water during battery change.
How to Prevent Pool Electrocution
Pool Electrocution is mostly an avoidable accident. You don’t have to wait until it’s too late to act. You can do a series of pool electrocution prevention measures to protect yourself, your family, and your friends from the dangers of electric shock.
Do the Basics
As a pool owner, it’d be best if you knew where all your pool equipment and light electrical switches and breakers and how to turn them on and off when there’s an emergency.
Stay aware of where your emergency equipment is, including a rescue hook and shepherd crook. It’d also be a great idea to learn basic CPR and rescue breathing producers to help in an emergency.
When cleaning your pool, hold the long-handled tools or poles away from any nearby utility line, including leading to your home. Keep them away and as low as possible.
Label your pool, spa, and hot tub equipment and lighting switches. Also, use battery-operated products if possible.
Electrical Cords and Devices
Before dipping any electric pool equipment into the pool, make sure its electrical cords are free of damages, and there are no repairs covered with tape.
Always keep all the electrical cords and cables away from the pool reach, at least five feet away from the water.
Today, you can get yourself a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protected outlet to use with your pool equipment that needs a power supply.
That protects you against the electric shock that could happen when the cables are in the water. You can also get a portable GFCI if your outlets aren’t GFCI protected.
If one of your electrical devices falls in the pool water while plugged in, unplug it before you can try to remove it. Even though you might be tempted to reach for it in the water, DO NOT until you unplug it.
Even a submersible pump isn’t safe to operate while you’re in the water. Something could happen and lead to an electricity leak. What follows next would be you getting electrocuted.
And keep yourself confident the electrical system is per national electrical code; you can get a licensed and certified electrician to check out the lines.
Clothing and Overhead Power Lines
When using electrical products anywhere, including around your pool, it’d be best to ensure your hands and feet stay dry. Another thing, dry rubber-soled can add a layer of protection from electrocution.
When installing your permanent pool or setting up your storable pool, you must find a spot that is far from overhead power lines, about 25 feet.
Use the services of a licensed electrician qualified in a pool, spa, and hot tub matters to inspect, repair, and upgrade your pool electrical system following National Electrical Code (NEC) and applicable local codes.
If you have underwater lights, make sure their power switch and GFCI are marked clearly and in a position you can easily access when there’s an emergency.
If you notice mold or algae inside your underwater, lights can be a sign of water leakage. If you see it, get an electrician to inspect them before anything worse happens.
If they are flickering, that is another problem. The electrician should know what to check for, but a possible culprit would be the junction box and the light’s wiring connections. Making sure everything is correctly and safely installed.
The rule of thumb of using a swimming pool is, you must never swim during a lightning storm. Yes, the chances of the lightning hitting the swimming pool are minimal, but it doesn’t happen at a time.
If it were to strike the pool water, it’d produce an electric current with the same electrocution effect as faulty wiring or more.
If the lightning were to strike equipment keeping the swimming pool wired and running and not the water, the danger would be the same.
Swimming in the rain might seem like a lot of fun but highly risky. The best way to protect yourself from electrocution danger is to get out of the water.
Q: Are Robotic Pool Cleaners Safe?
A: No. A robotic pool cleaner safe, but you can’t risk swimming while the unit is submerged in water. If you’ve never used a Robotic Cleaner, the company comes with its power supply designed to hook up to a 120-volt outlet and convert the power to 12-volts. The low voltage makes it safe for use in the pool water; it cannot cause electrocution.
Q: Can a 12v Pool Light Electrocute You?
A: The 12v pool lights cannot electrocute you if appropriately installed by a qualified electrician. The low-voltage power from the lights is small, it can injure, but it cannot kill.
The best thing you can do to ensure you’re safe is to get a license or a permit for any electrical changes or renovation in your pool that includes the replacements.
Of course, the electrical permit will cost you, but it ensures the work is suitable and safe. When the pool lights bonding or ground, they can leak electricity and send it directly via the water and cause electrocution.
What is Electric Shock Drowning?
Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) is a common phrase you will hear around when there is a pool shock incident. It refers to an injury caused by AC voltage present in water that electrocutes a person causing skeletal and muscular paralysis.
It’s not a thing that happens in swimming pools alone but also on beaches and marina. When electricity gets introduced to the water by pool equipment, lighting, boats, or another way, it can introduce light or dangerous electrocution risk that can cause ESD.
Pool electrocution isn’t a common phrase amongst most pool owners. However, it’s common among CPSC. Though uncommon, the statistics show has caused deaths that are known to be caused by electrocution. Most of the ESD is not recorded as electrocution injuries or tragedies. So, you got to be extra careful with pool electrocution. Protect your loved ones by making sure your pool is free from electricity.
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