Three children were electrocuted in a condo swimming pool recently. They survived, but in another incident a little boy did not. The cause of these injuries and death? Faulty wiring for underwater lights.
These aren’t isolated events. The American Red Cross and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission both sent out information as far back as 2003 warning of electrical hazards and swimming pools. Death and serious injuries have been reported.
What causes the problem? Several things have been listed as problems for swimmers. Underwater pool lights, sump pumps, vacuums and even electrical devices (TVs and radios) can all send a serious charge into the pool. Once the swimmer grabs the metal rails, they are struck.
What can I do? There are several courses of action pool owners need to take in order to prevent these tragedies. They are common sense, but they aren’t always followed.
Get an inspection: There are three levels of inspection. An electrician needs permits for any rewiring projects needed, so the first inspection is a rough in. The electrician will check wires, loads and other aspects of the pool’s electrical conditions. After that, the electrician will get permits, do the work and have the work inspected again. These rules change a bit from community to community but are the general way things are done.
Have a plan: Freak accidents happen. A well written plan posted in the swimming pool area will allow anyone to assist should the worst happen. The plan usually starts with instructions about how to turn off all power to the pool and surrounding area. No one can attempt a rescue until the risk of further victims has been stopped.
Emergency devices should be available in case of any pool emergency that requires a water rescue. Once the danger is past, these may be used to help get the victim out of the pool.
It is a good idea to have both first aid and CPR classes…for everyone. That way someone may be able to start rescue breathing before the paramedics arrive. If no one knows these techniques, the 911 operator is trained in giving instructions.
Keep electrical objects away from the pool deck. It’s nice to listen to the radio while swimming, but it could lead to disaster.
Check before diving in: If this isn’t your own pool, find out when it was last inspected. If the owner looks at you blankly, you may not want to get into the water. Some areas have inspection dates posted, but not all do. If the inspection date was a long time ago, again you may not want to get into the water.
These accidents are preventable. Common sense and a good electrician can keep you and your pool safe.